Rich Cambodian tourists flocking to Vietnam

By Bich Phuong   July 16, 2023 | 05:13 am PT
Rich Cambodian tourists flocking to Vietnam
Visitors pose for a group photo inside the Reunification Palace in downtown HCMC, April 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
Vietnam is seeing huge potential in high-spending Cambodian tourists post-reopening, thanks to its adjacent geographical location, convenient transport, and smooth border checks, insiders have said.

In the first six months of this year, Cambodia was one of Vietnam's biggest tourism feeder markets with 198,000 arrivals.

Cambodia is now Vietnam’s fastest-recovering tourism market with an increase of 338% in the first half of this year against pre-pandemic levels, followed by India at 236%, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Phan Huynh Phuong Hoang, deputy general director of leading tour operator Vietravel, said that most Cambodian tourists had previously come to Vietnam for the purpose of medical treatment.

After the pandemic, many rich Cambodian tourists flock to border provinces for weekend relaxation at high-end resorts, she added.

A Cambodian tourist spent $800-900 for a tour to Hanoi and Ha Long in northern Vietnam, equivalent to the cost of a tour to South Korea, Hoang added.

The number of Cambodian visitors booking her company’s tour so far this year increased by about 10% against pre-pandemic levels.

Tran Quoc Thinh, director of Tourism Promotion Center in Tay Ninh Province which borders Cambodia, said that Moc Bai border gate was one of the key road access points to welcome Cambodian tourists to Vietnam.

In the first six months of the year, visitors to Tay Ninh reached 3.5 million, up 14% over the same period last year. Total tourism revenue reached VND1.4 trillion, up 71% year-on-year.

There are three categories of Cambodian tourists coming to Vietnam. The first group is traditional visitors primarily coming from the three provinces adjacent to Tay Ninh Province for daily tours.

The second is luxury tourists from major cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap who travel to Vietnam to seek medical care, and the third includes tourists who opt for long-stay holidays and high-end resorts at Phu Quoc, Da Lat, and Vung Tau.

"Currently, the group of high-class tourists from Cambodia is increasing. They often arrive in Tay Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City for medical treatment and then spend time traveling and shopping," Thinh said.

Tourism insiders said Vietnam has big potential to boost tourism revenues from the group of high-spending Cambodian tourists. However, the lack of tourism products and direct air services connecting major cities between Vietnam and Cambodia have hindered growth.

Currently, there are daily flights from Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to HCMC with limited frequency while travel agencies now mainly operate outbound tours from Vietnam to Cambodia with diverse itineraries.

Inbound tours for Cambodian tourists to Vietnam are limited.

Hoang said her company was considering launching direct flights connecting Cambodia’s major cities with popular tourist destinations in Vietnam and developing luxury beach tours to carry tourists in Tay Ninh and HCMC to Phu Quoc and Vung Tau.

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