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Laos, Cambodia eye extra flights to boost tourism

Laos and Cambodia on Monday signed a document agreeing on the need to increase flights between the two neighbours to meet the growing demand for air transport.

Head of the Air Transport Division, Department of Civil Aviation, Mr Viengsay Singkham told Vientiane Times yesterday the minute of a meeting between aviation officials from the two countries was signed in Cambodia following the meeting.

The document aims to amend the Aviation Cooperation Agreement between Laos and Cambodia to facilitate and encourage regional airlines to increase flights between both countries in a bid to promote tourism and economic development.

Officials from both sides will submit the outcomes of the meeting to their higher authorities and proceed with the next steps to amend the agreement.

Director for Air Transport at Cambodia's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, Vann Chanty, told the Khmer Times that the move will push airlines in both countries to operate more flights between Cambodia and Laos due to increasing demand from tourists.

“We need to update the agreement to comply with reality and the demands of the market,” Mr Chanty was quoted as saying.

Currently, there are three airlines offering flights between Laos and Cambodia. They are Cambodia Angkor Air, Lao Airlines and Vietnam Airlines, and they operate about 21 flights a week.

Mr Chanty said the passenger load between the two countries increased by 5 percent last year to 178,000 and he believed the figure would hit 200,000 in the next two years.

Director-General of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, Keo Sivorn, told the Khmer Times the new agreement would make it easier for airlines to have direct flights between Cambodia and Laos and would open up new routes, such as from Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk to Vientiane or Luang Prabang.

Lao and Cambodian officials say that increasing transport connectivity will boost tourism growth in both countries as tourism businesses and tour operators are introducing joint package tours to encourage visitors arriving one country to travel onward to another country.

Earlier this month, both Cambodia and Laos, in a bid to promote bilateral tourism, announced they would create joint tour packages to facilitate travel to both countries.

Some 1.3 million international tourists visited Cambodia in the first two months of 2017, of which 65,675 were from Laos. This was a 64.5 percent increase compared to last year, according to the Khmer Times .

Meanwhile, Laos welcomed more than 4.23 million foreign visitors in 2016, of whom 16,536 were Cambodians.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update March 23, 2017)

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