Chinese Tourism to Cambodia Surges as Investments Pour in

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Sihanoukville used draw mostly Western tourists to its beaches, now Chinese tourists come to gamble.
Photo: Shutterstock

One destination that is undeniably experiencing a boom in Chinese tourism is Cambodia. In the first seven months of 2018, over 1 million Chinese tourists traveled to the Southeast Asian nation, representing growth of 72.6 percent year-on-year.

This massive growth has been fueled by increasingly close ties between Phnom Penh and Beijing and the billions of dollars in Chinese investments that have come along with them. Much of this investment has been to promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese-led plan to promote the development Eurasian and African commercial infrastructure, but Cambodia’s tourism industry has also been a major recipient of Chinese investment.

Chinese companies have begun work on multi-billion dollar luxury resorts around the country in a bid to attract even more Chinese tourists.

One of the most dramatic tourism investment projects is the recently announced $1.2 billion “Tourism Vacation Town.” The resort will be a “luxury city” featuring high-end hotels and theme parks. This isn’t the first tourism project that Tianjin Union Development Group (UDG) has launched in Cambodia. UDG acquired a 99-year lease for land in Koh Kong Province and is building a $3.8 billion resort dubbed “Dara Sakor.”

Of course, these projects are still in their early stages, but Chinese investment has already been hugely transformative for Cambodia’s tourism industry. Sihankoukville, which had been a beach destination for Western tourists, has dramatically shifted to catering to Chinese tourists. But the city’s draw for Chinese travelers is not its coastline, but rather casinos.

The 42 registered casinos in the city, with many more unregistered, cater almost exclusively to Chinese tourists and often employ substantial numbers of Chinese staff. The result of this investment has been an increase of prices for rent and property across the board, pushing many Cambodian tourism companies and employees out of the Sihankoukville market altogether.

Read full article at Jing Travel:


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