Phnom Penh Post quoted from a Ministry of Tourism white paper, released last week, that suggested Chinese visitors were ready to visit Cambodia in big numbers.
The white paper includes a five-year strategy to raise the market share of Chinese tourists to about 33% of the overall 7.5 million annual tourist visits projected for 2020.
Such a high market share (33%) will be criticised by tourism experts who recommend balanced markets. Countries that over perform in the Chinese market usually bemoan the cultural fall-out. Also, the tourism flow from China can be turned off relatively easily if there are political hiccups, or security lapses.
To succeed the white paper calls for Chinese signage and Chinese language text on visa application forms. It also recommended that Chinese visitors should be able to pay bills directly in Yuan currency.
At odds with the common perception of Chinese visitors are frugal spenders, the report suggested they are high-end tourists. They prefer to stay in four and five-star hotels, are less price-sensitive than other foreign visitors, and like to shop for expensive brands.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the ministry’s focus would be on improving the quality of tourism products and improving marketing campaigns.
“Marketing Cambodia as a tourist destination in mainland China is still limited and tourism facilities in Cambodia are not meeting the expectations of Chinese tourists,” he said.
Chinese travellers made 120 million outbound trips in 2015, according to China Tourism Academy that estimates there was a 12% increase over 2014.
For January to November last year, Cambodia received 629,786 Chinese, improving 24.0% from 507,860 visits during the same period in 2014.
Chinese travellers are a major source of business for neighbouring countries particularly Thailand and Vietnam.
Last year, Thailand welcomed 7.9 million Chinese up 71.14% from 4.6 million in 2014, while Vietnam attracted 1.7 million a decrease of 8.5% from 1.9 million in 2014.