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Chinese tourists to Cambodia up 55% in 1st half

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-19 13:13

PHNOM PENH -- Some 231,000 Chinese visited Cambodia in the first six months of the year, up 55 percent compared with 149,000 over the same period last year, a report of Cambodia's Tourism Ministry showed Monday.

China is the third largest tourist source to Cambodia after Vietnam and South Korea, the report said.

Kong Sopheareak, chief of the statistics and planning department of the Tourism Ministry, attributed the remarkable growth to direct flight connection, attractive Cambodian tourism sites, and friendly relationships between the two countries.

"Close relationships between the Cambodian government and the Chinese government have encouraged more Chinese tourists, investors and businesspeople to Cambodia," he told Xinhua over telephone on Monday.

The Southeast Asian nation received 334,000 Chinese visitors in 2012, up 35 percent year-on-year.

In June, the Tourism Ministry unveiled its five-year strategic plan to attract at least 1.3 million Chinese visitors by 2018.

Under the plan, the country would prepare entry-exit application forms and announcements at airports in Chinese language, write signs on main roads in Chinese, conduct studies to establish China Towns and train more Chinese speaking tour guides.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said it was vital to encourage owners of hotels, restaurants and tourism resorts to use three languages, Khmer, English and Chinese, on billboards, or promotional leaflets or brochures.

"Chinese are rich now, more and more Chinese visit abroad," he said. "Cambodia and China have had very good diplomatic ties, which are favorable for us to attract more Chinese to Cambodia."

Tourism is one of the major sectors supporting the Cambodian economy. Last year, the country received 3.58 million foreign tourists, up 24 percent year-on-year, and generated a total revenue of about $2.2 billion, or 12 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), said the Tourism Ministry.

The country is a destination for ecological and cultural tourism, and is well-known for its 12th century Angkor Wat Temple, a world heritage site, and the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple, another world heritage site.

Besides, it has a pristine coastline stretching in the length of 450 kilometers in four provinces of Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot and Kep. The coastline was recognized as one of the world's most beautiful bays in May, 2011.

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