What Makes a Complete Tourism Destination?
Unless we are talking pure beach holiday packages, most travel itineraries in Southeast Asia contain four key elements:
An urban transportation hub with shopping, dining experiences, museums, architecture, and nightlife.
Historical and Cultural Attractions
Temples, ruins, religious relics, customs and traditions.
Wildlife, national parks, mountains, waterfalls, rice fields, and jungles.
Beach destinations with a variety of accommodation options and facilities, activities, dining, and nightlife.
If these four elements are surrounded by a good travel infrastructure and a stable and safe political environment, you have what it takes to nurture a mature tourism destination that can stand on its own feet.
Cambodia Has Finally Arrived
For many years Cambodia fulfilled three of the four key elements as a travel destination. A lot of backpackers went to Cambodia as part of their Southeast Asia experience, but rarely as a part of a pre-booked itinerary from a travel agency. For mainstream tourism, Cambodia was an add-on, always playing second fiddle to Thailand and Vietnam. Mostly, Cambodia was a two or three day itinerary to Siem Reap and the Khmer temples. In some cases Phnom Penh was included in the itinerary, but the beach holiday would almost without exception lead tourists to one of the Thai islands.
In Cambodia, the history is there in abundance, the beautiful tropical nature is there, and Phnom Penh has the markets, museums, and the city vibes to attract some city break time. The beach holiday options for the 3-5 star market were very limited, and it was hard for travel agencies to work with the small offline resorts. Still, there are not that many options, but that is changing fast. This means that you can get your cultural and historical fix, satisfy your dining, shopping, and nightlife desire, and you can top it off with relaxing beach stays.
Cambodia Emerging as a Beach Holiday Destination
Sihanoukville is the local hub for Cambodian island hopping and beach holidays. The resort town itself mostly caters to backpackers and party lovers with cheap accommodation and no shortage of bars and activities around the beaches.
If you are looking for serene beaches, relaxation, or family bonding the Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand are stunning. And these years, they are becoming more developed and “comfortable” for the bigger tourism markets to explore. A rarity a few years ago, today it is rather easy to find Cambodian resorts with 24-hour electricity, wifi, and hot water. Moreover, some of the big hotel players in barefoot luxury are moving in…
Alila Villas Koh Russey
Krabey Island. Photo credits: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
On Koh Russey, the Alila group is opening a new luxury villa resort. On Koh Krabey, Six Senses are opening their first Cambodian property Six Senses Krabey Island. Both are scheduled to open during 2017. Couple these to openings with the already famous Song Saa Private Island, and you have the up-market beach holiday options that travel agencies have been looking for in order to finalise their Cambodia roundtrip packages.
Expect a big boost in Cambodian tourist arrivals and revenue during the coming years. It’s the new tropical tourism hotspot in Southeast Asia.
Learn more about Cambodia in our Cambodia Travel Guide.
Feature photo: Koh Russey. Photo credits: Alila Villas Koh Russey.