Photo by: Will Baxter
A lone tourist walks through the grounds of the Bayon Temple in Siem Reap province last year.
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 15:02Sieam Bunthy
The recent border conflict with Thailand led to 17 percent fewer tourists entering Cambodia through the Poipet international border crossing in April compared to the month previous, according to officials.
Some 62,651 visitors entered Cambodia through the Banteay Meancheay province checkpoint in April, down from 75,636 in March, figures provided by immigration authorities show.
Leak Romnea, chief of Poipet checkpoint’s Administration Officer, said the sudden decline was due to the ongoing Thai-Cambodia border clashes.
“The number of visitors fell in the days following the explosions which occurred on April 22 – people are afraid,” he said. However, he stressed that the Poipet crossing itself has been physically unaffected by the fighting.
“Although the conflict erupted on the Oddar Meancheay province border, Poipet international gate remains open and trans-border ... transportation has not been affected.”
Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang said the declining number of visitors was due to two main factors – the border conflict at the end of April, and the beginning of the wet season.
Thai visitors in particular were staying away, he said.
Tourists entering through Poipet are often headed to Siem Reap province, as well as Battambang and other nearby provinces.
Although arrivals had dropped in April, figures show 2011 has been stronger overall than 2010 for visitors entering through Poipet.
Some 297,289 total visitors have entered the Kingdom through the Poipet gate during the first four months of 2011, an increase of 69,397 visitors on the same period last year, according to the figures provided by Poipet checkpoint officials on Sunday.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon pointed to the increase so far in 2011 as evidence of a growing tourism industry, though allowed that April’s eruption of hostilities has impacted the sector, particularly with a decrease of Thai visitors to the Kingdom.
“The conflict at the border between Cambodia and Thailand has not hit other foreign tourists coming to Cambodia, but the number of Thai visitors has decreased,” he said.