Sihanoukville’s tourism industry has welcomed news that tCambodia Angkor Air, the Kingdom’s national carrier, is due to start a new regular service between Sihanoukville and Ho Chi Minh City from June 17. Talking to the Phnom Penh Post, Douglass McColl, vice president of Sihanoukville Tourism Association, said Cambodia Angkor Air’s new route, expects that the new flight will help to increase hotel occupancy in Sihanoukville. However, the association wishes to see more flights added to match the level of development. They are many Vietnamese travellers coming today to Cambodia Southern Coast as they enjoy beach vacation and also casinos. The flight could relaunch tourism from Vietnam which has experienced a decline since the start of the year while total arrivals to the resort city increased by 13.5%.
“It’s a little bit of chicken and egg, because you need the hotels in order to justify the flights, but you need the flights in order to justify the hotels,” he said. “Hopefully the very fact that there are now flights starting in Kunming, [China,] and now Ho Chi Minh City, signals that there is enough development within Sihanoukville to be able to support that.”
Although he said that direct flights from Bangkok would be the next logical step, additional flights from China were even more important. “I think that there will first be more direct flights to China, because if you look at the number of tourists, a lot of them are from China,” he said to the Phnom Penh Post.
According to Sihanoukville tourism department figures, the top three inbound markets to Sihanoukville by nationality during the first quarter were Chinese, Russians and Germans. Vietnamese were fourth, with some 11,200 visiting the coastal city between January and March.
Sihanoukville Airport welcomed 35,852 passengers from January to April 2016, a similar figure to he same period of 2015 when the airport recorded 35,236 passengers.