PHNOM PENH, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- About 1.21 million Chinese tourists had visited Cambodia in 2017, up 45.9 percent compared to 2016, a Cambodian Tourism Ministry report showed Wednesday.
Chinese holidaymakers accounted for 21.6 percent of the international tourists visiting Cambodia last year, the report said, adding that China topped the chart among the top 10 arrivals to Cambodia, followed by Vietnam and Laos.
According to the report, a total of 5.6 million international tourists traveled to Cambodia in 2017, up 11.8 percent compared to 2016.
Speaking to Xinhua last month, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said 2017 marked a significant milestone in Cambodia-China tourism relations as China overtook Vietnam to become the biggest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia.
2017 was also the first year that Chinese tourists to Cambodia surpassed the 1-million mark, he said.
The minister added that tourist spending greatly contributed to developing the local economy and reducing poverty.
Currently, 12 Chinese airlines had operated 126 direct flights each week to Cambodia, he said.
He predicted that the Southeast Asian country could attract at least 2 million Chinese tourists in 2020.
Tourism is one of the four sectors supporting the Cambodian economy. The country has three world heritage sites, namely Angkor archeological park in northwestern Siem Reap province, Preah Vihear Temple in northwestern Preah Vihear province, and Sambor Prei Kuk archeological site in central Kampong Thom province.
Besides, it has a pristine coastline stretching in the length of 450 km in four southwestern provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong.