Tapping into Cambodia’s infinite potential for spiritual tourism

With its profound Buddhist roots, Cambodia holds immense potential as a sanctuary for spiritual tourism. This potential is notably enriched by its historical ties to spiritual practices not only within its borders but also through historic ties with countries like India, Indonesia and other neighbouring nations in Asia.

The travel and tourism market in Cambodia is tipped to generate revenue in the realm of $286.4 million this year, according to Statista.com. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2024 to 2028 for the market in the Kingdom is estimated in the region of 7.68 percent. By 2028, the expectation for the market volume is $385 million.

Primarily known for its general tourism appeal and as a hub for international investment, Cambodia’s spiritual depth often goes underrepresented in mainstream tourism narratives, said Clemy Balasoto, Owner of Phoenix Lab Asia, Sales Marketing Director Real Spa Cambodia. It’s not just limited to religious pilgrimage or visits to ancient places of worship anymore.

Cambodia, as a destination for spiritual tourism, is threatened by the well-established spiritual and digital nomad hubs of Indonesia, particularly Bali and Thailand, said Randy Fadlila Nasser, Marcom Manager, Novotel Phnom Penh BKK 1. Such locations have well-established yoga and other spiritual retreat routes. These countries’ positions are further strengthened by a multitude of factors, including core influencers documenting their spiritual journeys and easy visa.

Cambodia could draw inspiration from Bhutan’s emphasis on holistic well-being and eco-friendly tourism practices, as well as its focus on high-value, low-impact tourism that prioritizes quality experiences, said Jeremie Clement, General Manager, Peninsula Phnom Penh. With the rise of technology, Cambodia can leverage virtual platforms to make these spiritual experiences accessible to a global audience, even if they can’t physically travel to the country.

Balancing tourism growth with the preservation of sacred sites and the authenticity of spiritual practices is critical, felt Mark Chen, Corporate Wellness Specialist. As people increasingly seek respite from the fast pace of modern life and look towards spirituality for solace, destinations like Cambodia that offer rich spiritual heritage and tranquil natural settings will become even more appealing.

The future of spiritual tourism is poised for growth, particularly as wellness becomes a prominent trend, said Jean-Benoît Lasselin, C4 partner, C4 Adventures.

Making Cambodia’s brand synonymous with spirituality makes a lot of sense because of Cambodians’ existing reputation as some of the world’s warmest people, said David-Jaya PIOT, Président of the Cambodia Hotel Association, Siem Reap Chapter.

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