Australian-listed casino operator Donaco International Ltd, which runs the Star Vegas establishment in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town near the Thai border, expects to deliver a sound business performance next year, amid an anticipated rise in tourist inflows from Thailand, Vietnam, China and other regional destinations.

Speaking to shareholders at Donaco’s annual general meeting on November 25, chairman Paul Porntat Amatavivadhana assured that the company is well positioned to extend its recovery momentum into next year, according to a press release issued by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on the same day.

“Operations at Star Vegas originally recommenced on a limited scale and methodically ramped up throughout the [July 1-September 30] quarter, with a view to achieving full operational capability over the coming quarters.

“I am incredibly optimistic about the future path forward for Donaco. We have a healthy balance sheet, a strong operational base, and travel flows between the Thailand-Cambodia and Vietnam-China borders are set to continuously improve,” he said.

The Star Vegas Resort and Club recommenced operations on June 18, 2022, after authorities lifted a temporary closure order on all casino operations in Banteay Meanchey issued on April 27, 2021, as reported daily new Covid-19 cases picked up.

The establishment had been operating on a limited basis, catering exclusively to domestic customers since September 25, 2020, as per the Covid-19 conditions set more than five months after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a shutdown on April 1.

Porntat reported that Star Vegas booked EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) of A$2.2 million (US$1.5 million) in the July-September quarter, which corresponds to the first quarter of its 2023 financial year.

He said the Poipet establishment bolstered Donaco’s first EBITDA positive quarter since July-December 2020 – the first half of its 2021 financial year – adding that “this momentum [is] expected to grow as we head into 2023”.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on November 28 that although the Kingdom is widely expected to receive significantly more ASEAN tourists next year, headwinds from lingering geopolitical tensions mean uncertainty in predictions for numbers of travellers coming in from outside the Southeast Asian bloc.

“From where I stand, optimism abounds that we’ll see many more tourists from ASEAN member states – especially Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – so we’ll need to roll out more flights.

“But, I’m afraid to say anything regarding tourist arrivals from outside of ASEAN – say from China or the West – since things hinge on the ongoing geopolitical competition,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia welcomed nearly 1.266 million international visitors in the first nine months of this year – up 861.21 per cent year-on-year but down 73.58 per cent over the same period in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the January-September arrivals, 946,125 or 74.75 per cent declared “holiday” as their purpose of visit, 270,910 or 21.40 per cent marked “business”, while 48,737 or 3.85 per cent indicated other motives.

Thailand accounted for 462,705 or 36.56 per cent (444,943 holiday; 16,814 business; 948 other) – up 617.83 per cent year-on-year and even 60.61 per cent over the corresponding 2019 period – while Vietnam represented 285,163 or 22.53 per cent (208,333 holiday; 76,461 business; 369 other), up 3,628.11 per cent on-year but down 55.25 per cent versus the analogous 2019 period.

The next largest source markets were mainland China with 62,425 or 4.93 per cent of the total, followed by Indonesia (49,903; 3.94 per cent), the US (49,802; 3.93 per cent), Laos (38,783; 3.06 per cent), South Korea (36,404; 2.88 per cent), Malaysia (34,438; 2.72 per cent), France (31,157; 2.46 per cent) and the UK (22,471; 1.78 per cent).