PHNOM PENH, August 3 (Xinhua) -- The number of foreign visitors to Cambodia by sea rose by 46 percent in the first six months of 2009 compared with the first half of last year, local media reported on Monday.
Numbers were up to 14,636, the Phnom Penh Post quoted Kong Sophearak, the director of the Ministry of Tourism's statistics department as saying, a rise he ascribed to the industry's strategy to link coastal and eco-tourism areas with Angkor Wat.
Kong Sophearak said the increase marked the beginning of the country's efforts to improve the number of arrivals by sea, with key infrastructure upgrades planned.
"The government has already decided to build a tourist port in Kep province and other centers in the country in an attempt to woo more tourists by sea," he said. Ministry statistics showed that 15 cruise ships arrived at Preah Sihanouk port via Thailand in the first six months of this year.
Just 23 cruise ships carrying 14,159 tourists docked at the port during the whole year of 2008.
"We hope that in the near future Kep province will have an attractive tourist port like other countries in the region," he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen told the closing ceremony of the Tourism Conference last week that the ministry and the Council for the Development of Cambodia, which approves projects, ought to work with the private sector to implement approved tourism-related investments as rapidly as possible to bring in tourists.