Cambodia voted number one for culture

Cambodia beats her regional rivals in the quest to be a cultural hub.

World Travel Awards have listed Cambodia has the leading cultural destination in Asia. Minister of Tourism Sok Soken said the award underpinned the country’s achievement in promoting post-covid era tourism. He drew attention in particular to the Angkor Wat archaeological park and the beauty of Sihanoukville bay.

In 2023, Cambodia attracted almost five and a half million foreign tourists, a leap of 140 percent from the previous year. Almost three quarters of the arrivals were from three countries – Thailand, Vietnam and China – with Britain and Germany providing the most European visitors.

Cambodia has achieved mammoth tourist growth even though she has not joined the regional rush to abolish visas for international visitors. Most arrivals require a prior or on arrival visa which typically is valid for 30 days and costs between US$30 and US$40, a significant revenue source for a small country. Thai prime minister Srettha Thavisin has suggested that Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam get together to produce a Schengen-type visa in which a visa for one country entitles entry to all.

However, the many differences in the entry requirements of the four ASEAN members may make a common agreement difficult to achieve. Additionally, the conflicting rules about cannabis use and foreign currency transactions amongst partner countries could complicate the picture even further. But the Thai premier is well-known for his enthusiasm for visa-free travel as a way of boosting both arrival numbers and lengths of stay as tourist revenue generators.