Friday, July 15, 2005

Cambodia tourism arrivals up 38.4% in first half 2005

PHNOM PENH--Tourist arrivals in Cambodia jumped 38.4 percent to 682,431 in the first half of 2005 compared to the same period last year, figures from the tourism of ministry showed Friday.

The sharp jump puts the kingdom on track to beat the 1,055,202 arrivals recorded for all of last year, when tourism bounced back after a dismal 2003 when the SARS outbreak and anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh kept visitors away.

Cambodia was most popular over the first half of 2005 with South Koreans, who comprised 14.9 percent of all visitors, while Japanese arrivals made up 8.8 percent, US nationals 8.1 percent and the United Kingdom 5.1 percent.

Arrivals via direct flights to Siem Reap, the northwestern gateway town to Cambodia's top tourism attraction Angkor Wat, made up 29.0 percent of the total, up slightly on last year's 26.3 percent.

Cambodia's government is trying to persuade tourists to stay longer and see more sights than the World Heritage-listed temple complex.

Tourism is one of the only sources of foreign exchange for Cambodia, which is one of the world's poorest countries and is still clawing its way back to normalcy after nearly three decades of conflict that ended in 1998.

The kingdom is aiming to lure three million tourist arrivals annually by 2010.

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