PHNOM PENH, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- China has overtaken South Korea to become the 2nd largest tourist source to Cambodia, according to the data from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism on Thursday.
The report showed that Vietnam remained topped the chart among the top ten tourist arrivals to Cambodia with 584,800 tourists during the January-August period this year, up 12 percent year-on- year.
China overtook South Korea to become the 2nd largest tourist arrivals to Cambodia with 305,500 visitors, up 47 percent, while South Korea moved to the third place with 296,500 tourists, up merely 3 percent.
It added that during the first eight months of this year, the country has received a total of 2.77 million foreign tourists, up 19 percent year-on-year.
Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon attributed the sharp rise in Chinese tourists to the country's attractive tourism sites such as the Angkor Wat temple, a World Heritage Site, and the beautiful coastline, one of the World's Most Beautiful Bays.
"Chinese are rich now, more and more Chinese have been visiting abroad every year," he told Xinhua on Thursday.
"Close ties between Cambodia and China is an essential base to attract more Chinese to Cambodia."
The minister said the country has set a target to attract between 1.5 million and 2 million Chinese tourists by 2020.
Sem Phalla, secretary general of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), which represents about 220 tour and travel companies, said China is a huge market for Cambodian tourism.
"Excellent ties between the two countries and improving Cambodian tourism quality and services will encourage more Chinese to this Southeast Asia nation in coming years," he said.
Tourism is one of the sectors supporting the economy in this impoverished nation. Last year, the country received 3.5 million foreigners, earning more than 2 billion U.S. dollars.