Cambodia sets sights on Muslim tourists

Cambodia sets sights on Muslim tourists

Country wants to reduce reliance on visitors from China

A tourist takes pictures of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. (Post Today photo)
A tourist takes pictures of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. (Post Today photo)

The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism is targeting visitors from countries in the Middle East, a region believed to have great potential for the country's tourism market.

The ministry says it is promoting Cambodia in the Middle East to increase the number of tourists and investors from the region, the Khmer Times reported on Friday.

Ministry representatives in April participated in the Arabian Travel Market 2019 in Dubai, where interest in Cambodia ran high, according to spokesman Top Sopheak.

He said the ministry was aiming to diversify its tourism market, which is now dominated by China.

“China is now Cambodia’s biggest tourism market. There are also a lot of tourists from Asia and the European Union,” he said, adding that “tourists from Islamic countries are now a priority.

“To attract them, we are promoting Cambodia in the Middle East, and we hope to see more and more tourists from this region in years to come.”

Sopheak said the availability of more flights connecting Cambodia with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates would help.

Emirate Airlines operates a daily service between Dubai and Phnom Penh via Yangon. The airline also has a daily flight from Dubai to Phnom Penh via Bangkok. Qatar Airways flies daily from Doha to Phnom Penh with a layover in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thoun Sinan, chairman of the Cambodian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said the country must focus on reducing its reliance on the Chinese market.

“Targeting tourists in the Middle East is a way to make the sector more sustainable,” he said.

Sopheak and Sinan called for more halal food outlets in Cambodia. They said the lack of halal food options is keeping many Muslim people from visiting Cambodia.

The government created a halal certification last year for local companies.

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