2024 : Chinese tourists to Cambodia, big opportuny for small Businesses

Chinese tourists will increase to travel to Cambodia, all tourism business will have to be prepared and invest to catch these new travellers in 2024 

Chinese tourists to Cambodia

Chinese tourists again topped the list of foreign visitors to Cambodia

Cambodia has experienced a significant boost in tourism, especially from Chinese visitors, in the first 11 months of 2023. According to a recent report by the Ministry of Tourism, the country welcomed 498,250 Chinese tourists during this period, marking a dramatic 449 percent increase from the previous year’s figure of 90,648.

Key Highlights from the Tourism Report:

  1. Growing Share of International Visitors: Chinese tourists constituted 10.1 percent of the total 4.91 million international visitors to Cambodia from January to November 2023.
  2. Ranking Among Top Sources of Tourism: China emerged as the third largest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia, following Thailand and Vietnam. The country saw 1.65 million Thai and 920,093 Vietnamese visitors, with both groups showing significant increases of 130 percent and 129 percent, respectively.
  3. Government’s Welcoming Stance: The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism expressed a keen interest in attracting more Chinese tourists, highlighting their substantial contribution to Cambodia’s economic and tourism development, and efforts in poverty reduction.
  4. Role of New Infrastructure: The newly operational Siem Reap Angkor International Airport, backed by Chinese investment, is expected to be a key factor in drawing more international travelers, including those from China. This airport is anticipated to enhance the accessibility and appeal of Siem Reap province, known for the iconic Angkor Archeological Park.
  5. Positive Outlook for Tourism Growth: With the addition of new international airlines and routes, Cambodia is hopeful about further increasing its tourist numbers and attracting more investment, particularly in tourism-centric regions like Siem Reap.

The surge in Chinese tourists is a promising sign for Cambodia’s tourism sector, reflecting the country’s growing appeal as a global tourist destination and its potential for further development and economic growth.

Cambodia Tourism Bureau 

Around 3.39 million tourists arrived in Cambodia by air,  in 2019 with two of the Kingdom’s three international airports recording increases in arrivals.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post that while the growth in the number of Chinese tourists was encouraging, he was concerned by the drop in visitors from other countries.

The growth in the number of Chinese tourists is positive, but the decline in other foreign tourists such as from Korea and the US is not good news,” she said.

Opportunities for Cambodian Hotels, entertainment, Shops, leisure businesses

Sihanoukville, a once-sleepy beach town, symbolizes the transformation brought about by Chinese investment in Cambodia. The city of around 160,000 inhabitants has been entirely
transformed by Chinese casinos, hotels, and factories in recent years.

Many Chinese firms have set up factories in the town. The main attraction for business is the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a China-Cambodia tax-free economic zone.
Chinese companies run the majority of the over 100 factories in the region. A Chinese construction company is also building a four-lane highway to connect Sihanoukville to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Relations between Cambodia and China gained momentum after the two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2010.

Opportunities for Small Cambodian Businesses

Local Businessese have to be active, and invest in WeChat, Douyin, Baidu Chinese Website to catch Chinese tourists 

  • More than 1.27 million Chinese People visited the country in the first eight months of 2018, a + 72 %
  • But local Cambodian  say Chinese-owned businesses are taking all benefits

Belt and Road Initiative

Massive investment, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled his gigantic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to improve connectivity between Asia, Europe, and Africa.

As part of the project, China is building a web of transport and other physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, seaports, and pipelines in various countries, including Cambodia.
The Southeast Asian nation, a firm supporter of BRI, has benefitted enormously from Chinese money, which has helped finance a host of infrastructure projects.
Beijing has so far funded construction of seven hydropower dams that are collectively capable of generating half of Cambodia’s entire electricity needs. It has also built about 3,000
kilometers (1,864 miles) of highways and numerous bridges since the mid-1990s.

All these investments have turned China into Cambodia’s largest foreign direct investor and closest ally. Negative effects Although Chinese investments have significantly contributed to Cambodia’s economic growth, the benefits of Chinese money have not been widely shared with the local population. It appears to have benefited only some privileged sections of Cambodian society, who own land or operate businesses that cater to Chinese nationals. And instead of hiring local workers, many Chinese businesses tend to import them from China, fueling resentment among Cambodians.

Chinese Companies offer Opportunities

Chinese companies prefer Chinese workers because they find it easier to work with them, as they share the same language and work ethic, say, observers. A report published by Cambodia’s Interior Ministry stated that over 250,000 Chinese nationals currently reside in the country. This is over 60% of all foreign residents in Cambodia.

Chinese workers are, in most cases, offered a higher wage than Cambodians, experts say. Sophal Ear, an associate professor at Occidental College in the United States, told DW that there is a growing concern over Chinese domination of the local economy. Domination could mean the death of local industries. Sophal said Chinese investment, despite the boost in economic growth, has had a negative impact as a significant portion of the money has gone into casinos and real estate, which facilitate financial crimes and money laundering.

Some Cambodian officials admit that not all is well with the influx of Chinese immigrants. Cambodia’s National Police website quoted Sok Phal, a secretary of state in the Interior Ministry, as saying that of the Chinese nationals living in the country, over 78,000 reside in Preah Sihanouk province, and only 20,000 have work permits. The ministry has announced that from 2014 until the end of July, more than 2,700 Chinese nationals were deported. 

High reliance on China In recent years, Cambodia has increasingly turned toward China for financial and diplomatic assistance as Phnom Penh faced increased Western pressure over the state of democratic and human rights in the country.

Meanwhile, trade between Cambodia and China has risen rapidly in recent years, amounting to $6 billion (€5.4 billion) in 2017. Chinese exports to Cambodia account for 87% of that figure. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said China wants to see bilateral commerce increase to $10 billion by 2023.

If you want to leverage Marketing to attract Chinese Tourists… contact us.

GMA: Pioneering Tourism Marketing for SMEs in China”

GMA (Gentlemen Marketing Agency), a specialized marketing agency in China, has been at the forefront of transforming the tourism landscape for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). With its tailored strategies and deep understanding of the Chinese market, GMA is helping SMEs navigate and thrive in the competitive tourism sector of China.

Five Key Aspects of GMA’s Approach to Tourism Marketing for SMEs:

  1. Digital Expertise: GMA harnesses the power of digital marketing to elevate the presence of SMEs in China’s tourism industry. Utilizing platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin, GMA crafts engaging digital campaigns that effectively reach and resonate with the Chinese audience.
  2. Market Insight and Localization: Understanding the nuances of the Chinese tourism market is at the heart of GMA’s strategy. The agency specializes in localizing marketing efforts to align with the cultural preferences and behaviors of Chinese tourists, ensuring that SMEs’ offerings are appealing and relevant.
  3. E-Business Integration: Recognizing the importance of online sales channels in China, GMA assists SMEs in tapping into e-booking platforms like Ctrip, elong, Qunar, feizhu. This approach not only increases sales opportunities but also enhances brand visibility among Chinese consumers.
  4. Influencer Collaborations: GMA leverages the influence of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers in the tourism sector. By collaborating with these personalities, SMEs can gain credibility and a wider reach, essential for building a customer base in China.
  5. Data-Driven Strategies: GMA employs data-driven approaches to track consumer trends, preferences, and behaviors. This method allows for more targeted and effective marketing campaigns, ensuring that SMEs’ investments yield the best possible returns.

By focusing on these key areas, GMA is empowering SMEs in the tourism industry to navigate the complexities of the Chinese market and achieve sustainable growth. Their expertise in digital marketing, localization, e-commerce, influencer partnerships, and data analysis makes them a valuable ally for any SME looking to make its mark in China’s tourism sector.


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