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Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport Set for Mid-October Launch

by Surya Narayan
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The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI) is on track for its formal launch in mid-October, following a successful flight validation last week, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sinn Chanserey Vutha. The airport’s communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) infrastructure and equipment have been given the green light by the technical team after thorough inspections.

The validation process included ground and flight elements, such as baggage handling and passenger processes, with a particular focus on landing and take-off procedures. Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to preside over the airport’s launch ceremony in mid-October.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter (PATACC) chairman commented that the new Siem Reap airport comes at an opportune time as foreign tourists begin to return to the Kingdom. Ensuring passenger safety was a primary objective of the flight validations.

While international tourism has not yet returned to pre-Covid-19 levels, Chanserey Vutha expects that the situation will improve by the end of the year. He estimates that the number of international tourists arriving in Cambodia by air is currently around 40% of 2019 levels, with a full recovery anticipated by 2024.

Between January and February, 314,378 international visitors arrived in Cambodia by air, representing 37.31% of the 842,679 recorded during the same period in 2019. Chanserey Vutha noted that each country is implementing strategies to attract tourists, particularly from China, as Cambodia is among the most popular ASEAN travel destinations for Chinese visitors, along with Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In related news, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) signed a cooperation agreement on aviation safety on April 25. SSCA’s Mao Havannall requested the CAAC’s support in increasing the number of direct commercial flights between Cambodia and China to at least 300 per week, which would foster strong growth in tourist arrivals from the Asian economic powerhouse.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia welcomed 2.277 million international visitors in 2022, an increase of 11.59 times compared to 2021, but still down 65.56% from the record high of 6.611 million in 2019. The majority of these visitors were on holiday (77.60%), followed by business (18.93%) and other purposes (3.47%).

With the upcoming launch of the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, Cambodia is poised to welcome even more international visitors and further boost its tourism industry.

Source: Khmer Times

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