Tourism’s influence on life

By Frances Micklow

The tourism industry in Cambodia generates about $1.4 billion a year and accounts for an estimated 10 percent of the country’s GDP. With 2 million tourists arriving in Cambodia per year, it is no wonder that the people of Siem Reap and the Tonle Sap Lake have adapted their way of life to benefit from the visitors.

While cruising through the shallow, murky-brown waters of the Tonle Sap, a small speed boat trailed a little ways behind ours. When I turned to snap a picture, I caught the eye of the young boy driving and waved. As soon as I did, the oblong boat came speeding up next to ours. The boy grabbed the side of our boat, and the young girl with him, in one swift motion, jumped onto the bow. With a basket of cans of beer and soda in hand, the girl made her way up and down the boat trying to sell the drinks. When we declined all of her offers, she leapt back into her boat and the boy quickly steered the vessel around and away from ours.

Lohn, our guide, explained that many people who live on the lake sell things to tourists because of the major profit that can make. “You can get a coke for $.25 or $.50 and then sell it for $1 and make quite a profit,” he said.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Cambodian GDP was $1,900 in 2009, which breaks down to about $5 a day. Lohn estimated that it was a little lower, with the average Cambodian making about $.25-$.50 a day and about $3 a day in the heavily touristed Siem Reap. Many Cambodians have moved to Siem Reap to try to take advantage of the visiting foreigners.

Unfortunately for the young boy and girl in the boat, I was not one of those cash-spending foreigners today.


2 comments so far

  1. Bram Micklow on

    Where are you? I expected some writing today. Love ya

  2. Smith Cam on

    View of Tonle Sap Lake, Kampong Chhnang is one of the most liked tourist sites in Cambodia. According to many people, Kampong Chhnang is the most beautiful of the Cambodian provinces.

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