Cambodia wants a larger share of the Chinese outbound tourism market.
Tourism authorities in the country are already setting up plans to entice over 700,000 Chinese visitors this year, a number they expect to rise up to 2 million a year by 2020, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
In last week’s Macau forum, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Asia gambling, lodging and leisure head Billy Ng said Chinese tourists—buoyed by rising incomes in their country—spent an estimated $164 billion last year and were expected to spent $264 billion into the global economy in 2019, despite the slowing economic growth in China.
Ng said factors such as “rising disposable income and the increase in middle-class households” have tipped the scales in favor of the Chinese mass-market tourists. In turn, this sector is “driving a shift in travel and consumer preferences, with the focus now on necessity rather than luxury.”
Cambodia plans to lure Chinese tourists using its thriving gambling offerings.
Early this month, the country approved 10 new casino licenses, mostly to operators intending to focus on online gambling operations. Officials said the Chinese investors were backing majority of the newly licensed casinos.
Most of these casinos will be built on Cambodia’s southwest coast, the country’s main tourist destination. Majority of Cambodia’s 59 casinos are located near the border crossings with Thailand and Vietnam, but there were only very few operators in the Sihanoukville province, including the struggling Queenco Casino and Hotel.
Aside from the casino amenities, Cambodia also plans to position itself as a cultural tourism destination. During the Macau forum, Prime Minister Hun Sen said cultural tourism is “about 80 percent” of the entire country’s tourism.
An estimated 4.5 million tourists visited the kingdom in 2014, contributing about $3 billion to the economy, according to the report.