Local tourism industry stakeholders eagerly await the resumption of direct flight services by regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl between the Thai capital and the city of Siem Reap on April 1, as travel demand between neighboring countries gradually returns to pre-crisis levels.
Bangkok Airways announced in a press release last week the decision to begin daily direct flights between the Thai capital’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and Siem Reap and Myanmar’s commercial hub Yangon on August 1, with a route to the central Vietnamese city of Danang scheduled to begin a month later .
“We are very pleased to announce the resumption of the Bangkok-Siem Reap, Bangkok-Yangon and Bangkok-Danang routes after we began operating our first three international flights between Samui-Singapore in August 2021, Bangkok-Phnom Penh in December 2021 and Bangkok – Maldives in July 2022,” Bangkok Airways President Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth said in the press release.
“The soon-to-be resumption of flights between Bangkok and Siem Reap, Yangon and Danang is expected to boost tourism in Thailand as well as our neighboring countries.
“We have assured that Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam have robust procedures in place to ensure leisure and business travel between these cities can be conducted safely,” he added.
Thai AirAsia currently also flies from Bangkok to Siem Reap, albeit from Don Mueang, the Thai capital’s other airport.
Speaking to The Post on July 31, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) President Chhay Sivlin argued that the return of Bangkok to Siem Reap flights reflected increased demand for the direct route since the Cambodian government relocated , to allow for a broader resumption of socio-economic activity in November as the Covid-19 pandemic ebbed.
The additional flights will increase international arrivals by air, giving travelers wishing to visit Siem Reap province an alternative to fly into the capital and then head northwest on a long overland journey, she said. “This is a very positive sign for Siem Reap province.”
The number of foreign tourists in Siem Reap has yet to reach pre-Covid levels, Sivlin said, adding that most were from Vietnam and Thailand, less from the region, the US or Europe.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan stressed that “the more flights, the merrier” for the tourism industry in Siem Reap, which is home to Angkor Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site became.
“We encourage more flights to be launched to Cambodia – particularly to Siem Reap,” he said, adding that although European visitors to the province remain fairly limited, arrivals from Thailand have increased.
Bangkok Airways said the Bangkok-Siem Reap flight will be operated by an ATR72-600 aircraft, named for its standard capacity of 72 seats.
“Outbound flight PG905 departs Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi International Airport – at 10:30 am and arrives at Siem Reap International Airport at 11:45 am. Incoming flight PG906 departs and lands at 12:15 from Siem Reap International Airport [at] Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi International Airport – at 1:55 p.m.,” it said.
Cambodia welcomed 506,762 international arrivals in the first half of 2022, up 394.1 percent year-on-year, according to a report by the Ministry of Tourism.
Broken down by mode of entry, 240,637 visitors arrived by air, 261,515 by land and 4,610 by water, an annual increase of 420.3 percent, 364.4 percent and 230.4 percent, respectively.
The report also revealed that holidaymakers took 6.33 million domestic trips in the first half, up 219.3 percent year-on-year, while foreign residents accounted for 0.68 million, a year-on-year increase of 380.3 percent represents.