PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Approximately 530,000 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia in the first half of 2017, representing an increase of 40 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a Tourism Ministry report on Friday.

Chinese holidaymakers accounted for 20 percent of the foreign tourists visiting Cambodia during the six-month period, the report said.

Some 2.66 million international tourists traveled to Cambodia in the first six months of this year, up 12.8 percent year-on-year, it said, adding that China topped the chart among the top 10 arrivals to Cambodia, followed by Vietnam and Laos.

Kong Sopheareak, director of the Tourism Ministry's statistics and planning department, told Xinhua that the excellent ties between Cambodia and China, Cambodia's attractive tourism sites and direct flights between the two countries are the key factors attracting more and more Chinese tourists and business people to Cambodia.

He said 12 airlines are operating about 120 flights per week between Cambodian and Chinese cities.

"It is expected that Chinese tourists to Cambodia will reach one million in 2017," he said.

Last year, Cambodia launched a "China Ready" strategy with the aim of attracting 2 million Chinese tourists annually to Cambodia by 2020.

The strategy listed steps to be taken by tourism authorities to facilitate visits by Chinese tourists, such as providing Chinese signage and documents for visa processing, encouraging local use of the Chinese currency and the Chinese language, and ensuring that food and accommodation facilities are suited to Chinese tastes.

Cambodia is famous for the Angkor world heritage site in its northwestern Siem Reap province.

Tourism is one of the four pillars supporting the Cambodian economy. The Southeast Asian nation received 5 million foreign tourists including 830,000 Chinese in 2016, earning gross revenue of 3.4 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Tourism Ministry.