SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Friday welcomed the arrival of Chinese travelers after the world's second-largest economy optimized its COVID-19 strategy early this month, officials said.
A Ruili Airlines flight, carrying more than 100 passengers from Kunming in southwestern China's Yunnan Province, landed in Sihanoukville in southwestern Cambodia on Friday morning, receiving a warm welcome from local authorities.
Speaking to reporters at the welcoming event, Hor Sarun, secretary of state for Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism, said Cambodia is ready to welcome all Chinese people and tourists.
"There is neither COVID-19 restriction, nor COVID-19 test on Chinese travelers, and they are free to travel everywhere in Cambodia," he said.
Chea Aun, secretary of state for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said he expected the number of Chinese tourists to Cambodia to reach the pre-pandemic level within a couple of years.
"We hope that the number of Chinese travelers to Cambodia and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will again increase sharply," he said.
China was the largest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia in the pre-pandemic era, a report from the Ministry of Tourism said, adding that the kingdom received 2.36 million Chinese tourists in 2019, generating about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in revenue.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon has told Xinhua that Cambodia is projected to attract at least 1 million Chinese tourists in 2023, an expected increase from merely 110,000 in 2022.
"China is the most important outbound tourism market for the world, so China's resumption of outbound tourism is very beneficial not only to Cambodia, but also to the whole world," he told Xinhua.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter, said China's resumption of outbound tourism would give a boost to global tourism growth.
"Not only Cambodia but also the whole world are waiting for the return of the Chinese tourists to their countries," he told Xinhua. "The presence of Chinese tourists has greatly contributed to the development of the tourism industry in Cambodia."