PHNOM PENH, Nov. 17 (FN) -- The number of tourist arrivals in Cambodia from China and Thailand rose sharply in the first nine months of 2016, while Vietnam still led the top 10 arrivals, local media reported Thursday.

Kong Sopheareak, director of statistics and information at the Ministry of Tourism, said that 3.5 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia during the Jan.-Sept. period this year, representing a 4.8 percent rise over the same period last year.

He said in the first nine months of this year, tourist arrivals from China rose about 12.5 percent, up to 577,280. Thai visitors rose 18.9 percent, up to 255,647, while Vietnam topped the charts with an increase of 0.1 percent to 695,670.

"Both Cambodia and China have a good relationship and big investments and that's the reason Chinese tourists like to come here and there are more and more direct flights from China to Cambodia," Sopheareak was quoted as saying by the Khmer Times.

He added that the increase in Thai tourists visiting Cambodia was because Thailand shares a common border with Cambodia, and it was easy for Thais to cross the border.

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia's National Tourism Alliance, said the increase in numbers from China and Thailand was due to Cambodia's strong diplomatic ties with both countries.

He said more Chinese tourists would visit Cambodia if there was a railway link from Southern China to Myanmar that continued on to Laos and to Cambodia.

He also called for more direct flights from China's mainland cities to Phnom Penh.