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The Resilient Bounce Back: Analyzing Cambodia’s Tourism Recovery (2019-2024)

By Arnaud Darc The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted global tourism, and Cambodia was no exception. However, the data from 2019 to 2023 highlights a significant recovery trend, especially in air arrivals. This analysis underscores the resilience of Cambodia’s tourism sector and provides insights into the recovery process and ongoing challenges. Introduction Did you know that Cambodia saw a drastic 82% drop in air arrivals from 2019 to 2022? The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global travel, hitting the tourism industry hard. However, recent data shows a promising recovery. This article delves into the rebound of Cambodia’s tourism sector from 2019 to the first quarter of 2024, highlighting key insights and offering recommendations for continued growth. International Arrivals Overview 2019: Total international arrivals: 6,610,592 Arrivals by air: 4,403,995 2022: Total international arrivals: 2,276,626 Arrivals by air: 791,603 2023: Total international arrivals: 5,453,231 Arrivals by air: 1,866,231 2024 (Q1): Total international arrivals: 1,582,677 Arrivals by air: 641,713 Arrivals by Air Comparison 2019 to 2022: Total air arrivals dropped from 4,403,995 in 2019 to 791,603 in 2022, marking an 82% decrease. 2019 to 2023: Total air arrivals increased to 1,866,231 in 2023 from 791,603 in 2022, a 135.8% increase but still 57.6% below 2019 levels. 2019 to 2024 (Q1): Q1 air arrivals in 2024 were 641,713, reflecting a continued upward trend compared to previous years but still below pre-pandemic levels. Key Insights 1. Impact of COVID-19 The data clearly reflects the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cambodia’s tourism sector. The drastic drop in arrivals during 2020 and 2021 highlights the global travel restrictions and reduced consumer confidence. By 2022, there was some recovery, but the levels were still significantly lower than pre-pandemic figures. 2. Recovery in 2023 The substantial increase in 2023 suggests a strong recovery, with air arrivals more than doubling compared to 2022. However, despite this positive trend, the figures remain below pre-pandemic levels, indicating that the sector is still in a recovery phase. 3. Performance of Major Airports Phnom Penh International Airport: Saw a significant increase from 609,667 arrivals in 2022 to 1,365,735 in 2023. Siem Reap International Airport: Experienced growth from 165,180 arrivals in 2022 to 484,742 in 2023, indicating a stronger recovery in the tourism sector. Sihanouk International Airport: Showed more modest gains, reflecting ongoing challenges in attracting tourists. 4. Q1 2024 Trend Phnom Penh International Airport: Arrivals increased from 339,291 in 2023 Q1 to 431,264 in 2024 Q1. Siem Reap Angkor International Airport: Arrivals increased from 138,046 in 2023 Q1 to 206,788 in 2024 Q1. Sihanouk International Airport: Arrivals slightly decreased from 4,245 in 2023 Q1 to 3,661 in 2024 Q1. Conclusion The data underscores the resilience of Cambodia’s tourism sector, rebounding strongly in 2023 and continuing to grow into the first quarter of 2024. However, the gap between the pre-pandemic year (2019) and the latest year (2024) highlights that the sector is still in recovery mode, with ongoing efforts needed to reach and surpass previous peaks. The significant increase in air arrivals in 2023 and Q1 2024 is a positive sign, indicating renewed interest and confidence in traveling to Cambodia. The Cambodian government’s proactive measures, such as implementing rigorous health protocols and launching marketing campaigns, have played a crucial role in reviving tourist confidence. Moving forward, continued focus on enhancing safety, promoting the country’s attractions, and supporting the tourism infrastructure will be essential to achieving full recovery and sustained growth in Cambodia’s tourism sector. Analyzing Tourist Arrivals and Angkor Ticket Sales from 2019 to May 2024 The provided report by the Authorities offers a detailed analysis of tourist arrivals and ticket sales for the Angkor complex from 2019 to May 2024. The data reveals significant changes in tourism patterns, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery period. Here are the key points and insights from the report: Tourist Arrivals Overview 2019 (Jan-May): Total international arrivals: 1,117,831 Angkor ticket sales: High volume (exact numbers not specified) 2024 (Jan-May): Total international arrivals: 472,258 Angkor ticket sales: Significant decrease compared to what is estimated in 2019 Key Insights 1. Impact of COVID-19 The data shows a dramatic decrease in tourist arrivals and Angkor ticket sales in 2020 and 2021, reflecting the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2024, there is a noticeable recovery, but levels are still below pre-pandemic figures. 2. Recovery in 2024 There has been a substantial recovery in tourist arrivals and Angkor ticket sales in 2024 compared to 2022 and 2023, although the numbers remain significantly lower than in 2019. 3. Detailed Country Analysis (Jan-May 2024 vs. Jan-May 2019) USA: 49,255 arrivals in 2024 compared to 80,425 in 2019, a decrease of 38.76%. UK: 44,607 arrivals in 2024 compared to 60,073 in 2019, a decrease of 25.75%. France: 41,819 arrivals in 2024 compared to 52,303 in 2019, a decrease of 20.04%. South Korea: 40,666 arrivals in 2024 compared to 74,587 in 2019, a decrease of 45.48%. China: 33,293 arrivals in 2024 compared to 409,479 in 2019, a decrease of 91.87%. 4. Countries with Notable Changes Spain: Relatively stable with only a 3.74% decrease. India: Slight decrease of 8.22%. Indonesia: Notable increase of 5.09%. 5. Angkor Ticket Sales Overall, there has been a 58% decrease in Angkor ticket sales from January to May 2024 compared to the same period in 2019. Significant drops in ticket purchases by tourists from Thailand and Vietnam, with only 2% of Thai tourists and 4% of Vietnamese tourists buying tickets to Angkor in 2024 compared to 18% and 9%, respectively, in 2019. French tourists have the highest percentage of ticket purchases to Angkor at 91%. Important Points Overall Ticket Sales: As of May 2024, ticket sales to Angkor are down by 58% compared to the same period in 2019. Countries with Minimal Decline: Spain and India show less than a 10% decrease in Angkor ticket sales. Increase in Sales: Indonesia has seen a slight increase in ticket sales. Thai and Vietnamese Tourists: A significant decline in the percentage of these tourists purchasing Angkor tickets. French Tourists: … Read more