PHNOM PENH: Cambodia has been named as the world’s best tourist destination for its rich heritage, public safety and friendliness of its people.
The country won the accolade from the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association’s (PATWA) International Travel Award for Best Destination despite the global coronavirus outbreak that has dampened the global tourism industry.
PATWA’s Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said the award for the Best Destination would boost the nation’s global popularity..
Tourism Ministry spokesman Chuk Chumno told the Khmer Times that the award was set to be presented in Berlin later in the month, but it had been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said Cambodia won because of its ancient temples, food and culture, and that the award would promote Cambodia to the rest of the world.
“We must participate in (maintaining) our heritage so we can win again in the coming years.”
According to the South China Morning Post, the Covid-19 outbreak had a huge impact on tourism in Cambodia.
Government figures showed that the number of tourists arriving from abroad dropped by more than 60 per cent last month.
There have been five cases of Covid-19 in the country.
Chumno said even though the tourism sector was affected by the outbreak, domestic tourists could help off-set the impact and stabilise the sector.
According to a Tourism Ministry report, Cambodia earned US$4.91 billion in revenue from 6.61 million foreign visitors last year, up by 12.4 per cent from the previous year.
The report said the number of domestic tourists visiting culture sites in the country last year was 11.3 million people, an increase of 2.3 million people compared with the previous year.
It said Cambodia’s tourism sector contributed 12.1 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product growth and employed up to 630,000 people.
The report also noted that last year, Cambodia received 908,803 tourists from Vietnam, 466,493 from Thailand, 363,951 from Laos, 254,874 from South Korea, 248,863 from the United States, 207,636 from Japan, 203,008 from Malaysia, 164,117 from France and 163,177 from the United Kingdom.