Cambodia's tourist arrivals went up 20 percent in 2006 from 2005, recording a third straight year of increase for its tourism sector, the Cambodian Daily reported on Wednesday.
During 2006, some 1.7 million tourists visited Cambodia, pumping 1.4 billion U.S. dollars into the country's economy, equivalent to 12 percent of the kingdom's GDP, Tourism Ministry's Secretary of State Thong Khon told the newspaper on Tuesday.
In 2005 and 2004, 1.4 million and 1 million tourists respectively visited Cambodia, according to the Tourism Ministry.
"This has been a good year because there were no obstacles [to tourism] such as SARS or bird flu," Khon said of 2006, adding that he expects the number of visitors in 2007 to increase by a further 20 percent.
The main Cambodian attraction in 2006 remained Angkor archeological complex in Siem Reap province, with Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville as well as Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces getting some visitors, he said.
By October 2006, more than 650,000 people had visited Siem Reap, accounting for nearly half of all tourist arrivals in Cambodia, according to Tourism Ministry statistics.
However, the Ministry estimated that more than one fifth of tourism-sector revenue in 2006 went abroad due to remittances by foreign companies and consumption of imports such as gasoline and luxury foods, Thong Khon said.
Such revenue "leakage" was down by 30 percent from 2005 and was projected to continue dropping as Cambodia supplied more of the foods consumed by foreign visitors, he added.