Indian budget carrier GoAir has announced that it will launch the first direct flight between India and Cambodia later this year.

The service will connect Phnom Penh and New Delhi using an Airbus A320.

GoAir said Phnom Penh and Vietnam’s Hanoi will be the next cities to join its list of international destinations, which now consists of Thailand’s Phuket, Maldives’ Malé, Oman’s Muscat, and United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi.

Chea Oun, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told Khmer Times that the airline has already applied for permission to operate the flight.

Tourism Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak welcomed the announcement and said the upcoming route will boost the number of visitors to the Kingdom, including tourists and business people.

“The number of tourists travelling between the two countries could be much bigger. The number of Cambodian tourists choosing to visit India is still very small. When Cambodians do visit India, they mostly go to religious sites,” he said.

“A direct flight connecting the countries will change this. It will boost our tourism markets by facilitating travel,” Mr Sopheak said.

India-Cambodia relations go back to the first century AD when Hinduism and Buddhism began to spread across Southeast Asia.

The influence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Indian architecture in Cambodia is visible in the magnificent structures at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm and other religious and historical sites in the Kingdom.

Luu Meng, co-chair of the government-private sector tourism working group, said the Indian market has great potential for Cambodia.

“It is a good opportunity. India has a huge number of people to whom we can promote our tourist sites,” Mr Meng said.

“A direct flight will allow us to welcome many more Indian tourists as Thailand does. Indians will feel at home here because we also eat many curry dishes.”

Statistics from the Ministry of Tourism show that Cambodia received 65,882 Indian tourists last year, a 10 percent increase compared to 2017.