Tourism in Cambodia

Opportunities and Challenges

Authored by: Richard Sharpley , Peter McGrath

The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138831186
eBook ISBN: 9781315736709
Adobe ISBN: 9781317567837


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During the 1960s, Cambodia was one of the foremost tourism destinations in Southeast Asia. Attracted primarily by the culture of Phnom Penh and the temples of Angkor, between 50,000 and 70,000 tourists visited the country each year (Hall and Ringer 2000), a significant number in those early days of mass international travel. However, as a result of the political turmoil of the following two decades, Cambodia became off-limits to international tourists and it was only in the early 1990s that it regained its place on the international tourism map. Following the Paris Peace Accords, some 22,000 people visited Cambodia in 1991, more than doubling to around 50,000 the following year although, according to Chheang (2008a, 291), the majority were UN personnel. In 1993, the year that international tourist arrivals were first officially recorded, the country adopted an open-door policy to attract foreign investment in tourism and since then, the sector has grown rapidly (Grihault 2011). Some 118,000 tourists visited Cambodia in 1993, a number that increased to almost half a million by 2000 and subsequently grew remarkably to more than 4.5 million by 2014 (MoT 2015). The economic contribution of tourism has increased commensurately. In 1996, tourism receipts amounted to US$118 million; by 2014, the figure had risen to US$2,736 million (MoT 2015).

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