A total of 4,106,034 domestic trips were recorded in the first 34 days of this year, from January 1 to February 3 – 23.08 per cent in just the first three days of this month alone – statistics that observers are regarding as positive signs for a rapid recovery in domestic tourism for 2022.

From February 1-3 during the Lunar New Year holidays, residents made 947,497 trips across the Kingdom, marking a 6.15 per cent rise over the corresponding period in 2021. The capital was the most popular destination, accounting for 27.24 per cent of the total, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The ministry noted that Cambodians and foreign residents respectively accounted for 931,308 and 16,189 trips to Phnom Penh (258,069), and the provinces of Battambang (193,567) Kampot (66,534) and Siem Reap (58,953).

Broken down by day, 333,709 trips were recorded on February 1, 353,216 on February 2, and 307,421 on February 3.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon stressed that although the Lunar New Year is not an official holiday, domestic tourism saw a marked spike during the period.

Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Tourism director Nget Pitou said the northeastern province logged 13,559 domestic trips over the three days, signalling a notable uptrend in travel to the mountainous locality since the government started winding back Covid restrictions. The rebound also reflects the success of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, as well as government efforts to improve infrastructure and ensure peace and security.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on February 6 that the more than three million trips across a multitude of local destinations in January augur well for a tourism recovery, bolstered by various types of tourist expenditures.

She said the rebounding domestic tourism market is creating employment opportunities for tourism professionals – many of whom were forced by Covid to take jobs in other fields – and other locals, and giving businesses that cater to foreign holidaymakers a more viable chance to reopen their doors.

As a result, the trend is contributing to higher tax revenues and injecting fresh impetus into the local and national economies, she added.

“Travel among local sightseers helps out a tonne – the more than three million trips were not to any single area, but to all over the country, leading to the widening of the tourism products currently on offer, and the creation of various services available to indulge customers as well,” Sivlin said.

Cambodia Hotel Association president Din Somethearith pointed out that more Cambodians have been taking trips to tourism attractions since Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the Omicron coronavirus variant was highly-transmissible but not as deadly as other strains.

There were also substantial upticks in domestic trips during end-2021 and the Lunar New Year, especially to Siem Reap province, he said.

The increased travel – and corresponding rise in demand for accommodation – would ultimately enable hotels, guesthouses and restaurants to reopen their doors, which will help spur economic growth, he added.

“When there is a lot of physical movement, there are accompanying economic movements in our country, and that is the most admirable and important point,” Somethearith said.