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Cambodia Airways Expands Its Wings to China with New Phnom Penh-Chongqing Route

PHNOM PENH: In a notable leap forward for Cambodia-China relations, Cambodia Airways has officially launched a direct flight service connecting Phnom Penh to Chongqing. The inauguration of this route, which took place on Saturday, marks a major step in enhancing trade and tourism ties between the two nations. This new airway is not just a routine addition; it represents Cambodia Airways' commitment to expanding its presence in the Chinese market, bringing the total number of its destinations in China to nine. These include major cities like Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Macau, Sanya, Jinan, Jieyang, and Haikou.

The bi-weekly service, operating on Mondays and Saturdays, promises to link the Cambodian capital with Chongqing, a city renowned for its distinctive mountainous landscape and picturesque gorges. This launch is seen as a pivotal move to reinvigorate the influx of Chinese tourists into Cambodia, a demographic that once topped the charts as the largest source of international visitors to the country. However, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift, with ASEAN countries overtaking China in this regard.

The easing of China's stringent 'Zero Covid' policy, effective from January 8, 2023, has shown encouraging signs, particularly in the realm of tourism. According to the Cambodian Tourism Ministry's data, the year 2023 witnessed the arrival of approximately one million Chinese tourists, a substantial leap from the 110,000 visitors recorded in the previous year.

A prominent figure in the travel industry, the Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association's Cambodia Chapter, offered a warm welcome to the establishment of the Phnom Penh-Chongqing route. He highlighted the route's potential to significantly boost Chinese tourist arrivals, attributing this to the enhanced convenience and accessibility provided by the new air link. Nonetheless, he also pointed out that the success of this route relies not only on the availability of flights but also on the diplomatic landscape, including Chinese government policies and the bilateral agreements between China and Cambodia.

The Chairman's insights bring to the fore the critical role of regulatory environments in shaping travel and tourism trends. He underscores the necessity for a continuous and focused approach towards bilateral policies and government regulations. This strategic focus is essential to maximize the potential benefits of the Phnom Penh-Chongqing service for the rejuvenation and growth of Cambodia's tourism sector.

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