Independent Cambodian carrier Skywings Asia Airlines has this week inaugurated the first regular international air services from Preah Sihanouk International Airport in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main beach resort destination. The charter carrier is offering flights for a limited four week schedule with a view to offering a scheduled programme from winter 2014/2015.
Skywings Asia Airlines was established as a joint venture between Cambodian and Korean investors in 2010 and launched operations in June 2011 focussing on supporting the demand for leisure travel between South Korea and Cambodia. It has been mainly supporting demand from Busan, Daegu and Seoul into Siem Reap as well as to other international markets, including Japan, Singapore and Thailand using a fleet of three Airbus A320s
The new Seoul Incheon – Sihanoukville route was launched on July 29, 2014 and will continue until the end of August. It is being operated in combination with Skywing Asia’s existing links from the South Korean capital to Siem Reap in order to provide a full tourism package that includes the Kingdom’s two landmark destinations.
“The first flights during this summer season are a way for us to test the market. We are considering having daily flights in the coming winter season 2014-2015,” said Mak Rady, chief executive officer, Skywings Asia Airlines.
“Surrounded by white-sand beaches and undeveloped tropical islands, Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kompong Som, is Cambodia’s most happening beach destination. Visitor numbers have risen steadily in recent years – and stand to skyrocket now that flights from Siem Reap have been initiated.”Lonely Planet Online Guide
Sihanoukville is developing as a destination for local and international visitors and traffic levels at Preah Sihanouk International Airport have risen 146 per cent during the first six months of this year to 20,400 passengers, thanks to its regular links to the country’s capital, Siem Reap. The provincial capital and port city in the south of the country is home to untouched beaches and a small archipelago of tropical islands off its south and west coast are among the features that are attracting a growing number of national and foreign visitors.
Alongside the port and tourism offering, several non-government organisations (NGOs) and national enterprises have invested in the province to maximise the benefits of the trading port in sectors including textiles and real estates. Business links are also developing within Cambodia and across international borders, the most notable is Sihanoukville being the location of the main production plant for Angkor Beer.
"The launch of Skywings Asia Airlines’ international charters from Seoul to Sihanoukville is a move in the right direction towards developing the Cambodian coastal city into a destination in its own right,” said Patrine Tay, marketing and sales director, Cambodia Airports. “We firmly believe in the attraction of Sihanoukville and will continue to work with all stakeholders to fulfill its tourism potential."
In our analysis, below, we highlight the growth of international visitors into Cambodia over the past twenty years from official data from the Statistics and Tourism Information Department at the country’s Ministry of Tourism. Over the 20 year period arrivals have grown from just 118,000 in 1993 to over four million last year with tourism receipts growing above $2.5 million for the first time. According to the Ministry of Tourism's 2013 report the largest foreign markets for arrivals were Vietnam, China, South Korea and Laos.