Tourism ministry sets sights on new cruise routes

Tourism ministry sets sights on new cruise routes

Setting its sights on wider horizons, the tourism ministry held preliminary talks virtually with the world’s second largest cruise liner at the Ministry of Tourism in the capital Phnom Penh on Monday. Interacting with the delegation from Silversea Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Group was Chuk Chumnor, Director General of Tourism Department and International Cooperation.

Chuob Ratana, Director of the Department of Tourism Development Planning was also present at the meet, presenting key tourism data to the cruise delegation. The meeting explored the possibility of adding Cambodia as a potential stop on their cruise itinerary in the region. Silversea Cruises is contemplating incorporating Cambodia in its package that links Hong Kong to Hoi An in Vietnam and Phuket in Thailand.

Chuob in his presentation, mentioned the Kingdom’s tourist attractions in detail, in addition to visitor demographics, average tourist spending and popular travel seasons. It was Chuob’s objective to make Silversea realise the potential of Cambodia as a worthy addition to their cruise route.

Cambodia can potentially be the geographical link for the itineraries to connect from Vietnam and Thailand, said Chuob. The 440km long coastal zone is among the most beautiful bays in the world.

“If we look at the 2023 tourist arrivals in Cambodia, we welcomed 5.43 million international tourists. The modes of travel were divided into air 34.2 percent (1.87million), land arrivals accounting for 85.8 percent (3.59 million), and waterway travel 1.2 percent (17,886 tourists),” he said.

The contribution from waterways remains limited, which he hoped would improve with the promotion of cruise industry. Subsequently he hoped that the total expenditure of international tourism into the coastal areas would rise exponentially.

Strategically, mostly cruise liners docked into Sihanoukville for just a day or night. The vision from the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is to extend the length of stay of the cruise passengers by one to three nights in which tourism products need to offer more diversity and uniqueness.

Cruise tourism is connected with community based tourism, said Chhay Sivlin, President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA). Cambodia’s tourism sector has been steadily growing, with increasing numbers of international visitors drawn to the country’s rich cultural heritage and natural attractions.

There were approximately 23 cruises that docked at Sihanoukville in 2023, said Ayub Yulianto, General Manager for Novotel Sihanoukville Holiday Resort. It still has room to grow and he believed, with the right investment needed in the country, the number can grow.

Investment in port infrastructure, such as the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, is critical, said Sopheak Chan, Facilitator of Helicopter and Private Jet Charter Services. Upgrades to accommodate large cruise ships, improved passenger facilities, and streamlined customs procedures can make Cambodia more attractive to cruise operators. The government’s proactive approach to promoting tourism confirms a commitment to becoming a good cruise destination.

Described as the jewel in the crown of the Royal Caribbean Group, Silversea represents high-end ultra-luxury. It has gained popularity for its lifestyle offering as well as its global destination portfolio. Boasting of the ultimate in luxury comforts complete with butler service in every suite, it offers around the clock in-suite dining and private executive transfers and flights included as standard. More than 900 destinations across seven continents are on the cruise map. (khmertimeskh)

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