Challenges facing the MICE industry in Cambodia

Cambodia, with its majestic temples, picturesque landscapes and rich culture, has become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years. The country is also attracting a growing number of business travellers, making MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events) tourism a fast-growing sector.

MICE tourism in Cambodia: a brief history

MICE tourism in Cambodia has grown rapidly over the past decade. In 2019, the country welcomed more than 2 million MICE travelers, generating revenues of over US$1 billion. The first major international conferences were held in Cambodia in the 2000s, such as the ASEAN Summit in 2002 and the World Economic Forum on East Asia in 2007. This growth has been driven by a number of factors, including the country's political stability, improved infrastructure and the development of new MICE products and services.

Phnom Penh, a flagship MICE destination in Cambodia - Photo:Shutterstock

Cambodia's business tourism situation in 2024

In 2024, MICE tourism in Cambodia continues to grow, but the sector faces a number of challenges. Key challenges include :
  • • Competition: Cambodia competes with other Southeast Asian countries to attract MICE travelers. These countries, like Thailand and Vietnam, have more developed infrastructures and human resources.
  • Lack of skilled labor: Cambodia's MICE sector needs skilled personnel to manage events and provide services to customers. However, Cambodia lacks qualified personnel for the MICE industry. This can lead to problems with customer service and event management.
  • Infrastructure: Cambodia's MICE infrastructure is under development, but there is still a long way to go. Not only are existing convention centers often small and not equipped with the latest technology, but there is also a need for more world-class convention centers and hotels.
  • Language barrier: Khmer is the official language of Cambodia, and few people in Cambodia speak English. This can be an obstacle for MICE tourists who don't speak the language.
  • Access: Cambodia is still a relatively inaccessible country for some travellers. Of course, Cambodia does have an international airport, Phnom Penh International Airport, but air links to the country are limited and often expensive. Domestic connections can also be limited.

Siem Reap airport opening: what impact on MICE tourism in Cambodia?

The inauguration of the new Siem Reap International Airport in October 2023 was a major event for Cambodia, opening the door to an influx of tourists and investors to the region. This state-of-the-art infrastructure, designed to accommodate long-haul aircraft, is expected to have a significant positive impact on MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events) tourism in Cambodia, for several reasons:
Increased accessibility
- Direct flights: The airport will welcome direct flights from major cities in Asia, Europe and North America, facilitating access to Siem Reap for business travelers and MICE event participants.
- Reduced travel times: Direct flights will eliminate the need for connections, significantly reducing travel times and making travel to Cambodia more attractive for professionals on a tight schedule.
Increased capacity
- More participants: The airport can accommodate a greater number of passengers simultaneously, making it possible to organize larger-scale MICE events and welcome more participants.
- Better logistics: The larger cargo area and modern facilities will facilitate the logistics of MICE events, including the transport of materials and equipment.
Greater appeal
- A more attractive destination: Improved accessibility and capacity will make Siem Reap a more attractive destination for MICE event organizers looking for unique and easily accessible venues.
- Synergy with Angkor Wat: The airport's proximity to the famous archaeological site of Angkor Wat will enable MICE event participants to combine their attendance at conferences or business meetings with cultural and sightseeing visits.

Angkor Wat, iconic site - Photo:Wikipedia

Challenges ahead
Despite these considerable advantages, the opening of Siem Reap airport alone does not guarantee the success of MICE tourism in Cambodia. If the country is to reap the full benefits of this new infrastructure, a number of challenges need to be met:
  • • Development of related infrastructure: Related infrastructure around the airport, such as hotels, convention centers and public transport, needs to be developed to meet the growing demand from MICE travelers.
  • Staff training: It is essential to train qualified staff in the field of MICE tourism to offer quality services to event participants.
  • Destination promotion: Cambodia needs to step up its marketing and promotional efforts to raise awareness of the country's potential as a MICE destination among international event organizers.

A MICE meeting hall - Photo:Khmer Times

Examples of recent challenges

- In 2023, Cambodia hosted the ASEAN Summit, a large-scale MICE event. However, the event faced a number of challenges, including a lack of hotel rooms and qualified staff ([Source 2]).
- In 2023, Cambodia lost out on hosting a major international congress due to a lack of adequate infrastructure (
- In 2024, Cambodia will host the SEA Games. This event is expected to attract a large number of MICE travelers, but the country will have to overcome a number of challenges to ensure that the event is a success, particularly with regard to infrastructure and security.

Looking ahead to 2025

Despite the challenges it faces, Cambodia's MICE sector has strong growth potential. The Cambodian government has taken a number of steps to support the sector's development, including the creation of a national MICE tourism agency and the development of new MICE products and services.

Here are some of the key trends expected to shape the MICE industry in Cambodia in 2025

✓Increasing demand for sustainable and responsible MICE events.
✓ Growing demand for immersive and authentic MICE experiences.
✓Increased use of technology to enhance the experience of MICE event participants.
Cambodia is well placed to take advantage of these trends and become a MICE destination of choice for event organizers worldwide.

If Cambodia can meet the challenges it faces, it can become a leading MICE destination in Southeast Asia. By 2025, the number of MICE travelers in Cambodia is expected to reach 3 million, generating revenues of over 1.5 billion USD.

Ministry of Tourisme, Cambodia
ASEAN 2023
SEA Games
Khmer Times
Tourism Review : Cambodia’s MICE Tourism – Still Long Way to Go

Related posts

© 2018 All Rights Reserved Terms of Use and Privacy Policy