Siem Reap hospitality industry brimming with optimism

Leading hoteliers appeared to pin their optimism on the prospects of the new Siem Reap International Airport boosting visitor numbers.

Joseph Colina, General Manager of Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (Siem Reap, Cambodia) anticipated more number of flights from the new airport as well as the upcoming airport in Phnom Penh scheduled to open in 2025. “This will make Cambodia more accessible to new markets and easier to discover. All it needs are these additional links, and Cambodia already boasts enough tourism attractions to both match and complement other Southeast Asian travel destinations.”

Giulio D’Alberto, General Manager, Zannier Hotels, Phum Baitang, believes the effectiveness of the new airport will dictate the fortunes of the bigger players like Raffles, Hyatt and Sofitel.

“Wealthy people will always have no issues in travelling,” he said.

D’Alberto explained that while the first quarter looks much better than last year, it is in the second and third quarters that the problems will begin to emerge. This is the time when Europeans start travelling and with the continent in recession, people will cut down on excesses. “They will prefer to travel within the continent (Spain, Italy, Greece, South of France), avoiding spending up to $10,000 for a family of four to travel to Asia, on a 20-hour journey in economy class and two changes of airport,” he added.

According to figures released by Statista, the estimate for revenue volumes for the hotel industry in Cambodia for 2024 is $106.8 million. The number marks an annual revenue growth rate of 9.20 percent, taking the market volume to $151 million by 2028. The market is expected to see users totalling 1.19 million by 2028. The hospitality market will see 83 percent of the total revenue being accounted for by online sales by 2028.

“I think the steady growth in tourist numbers will continue to steadily grow,” said William Lake, co-owner of Olive & Lake. While the recovery hasn’t been as quick as most hoped, there’s no denying that improvement is underway, he added. While many Siem Reap hotels reopened recently, demand still remains below expectations and some will struggle for survival.

There will only be a slight increase in numbers on the previous year for tourists, felt Steve Lidgey, General Manager, Travel Asia a la carte, a far cry from the heady days of 2019. “However, travellers will stay longer and be seeking more rewarding and self-riching experiences in their travels,” he said.

Painting a rather more pessimistic image was Craig Dodge, Director of Sales and Marketing of Phare Circus. He said, “High airfares, limited flights, sluggish economies and aggressive marketing from neighbouring competitor destinations dampen the recovery.” He asked suppliers to come up with unique and sustainable experiences to lure high-value travellers.

Explaining the complexities of air connectivity for European visitors, D’Alberto joined the chorus for direct flights from Europe, or at least with one stop only. He underlined the need for a new airline that must fly to Siem Reap, preferably from the Middle East. “It will be more comfortable for Europeans. When flights will be more affordable travellers will come back, not only on the high sector but mid and low too,” he said.

Lake summed up the mood of the industry saying, that with the continued development of local and international infrastructure and steady growth in demand, there’s hope that things continue to improve for the hospitality sector through 2024.

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