Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on June 9 asked Philippine ambassador to Cambodia Maria Amelita C Aquino to persuade more Filipino tourists to holiday in the Kingdom, as its government moves to allow visitors fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to enter the country with little or no quarantine stay.
At a meeting held at the ministry, Khon said the government is planning a strategic plan to reopen tourism as it strives to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Currently, the Ministry of Tourism is studying and preparing a concept note on tourism packages geared towards holidaymakers who have been fully vaccinated, aimed at examining the possibility for those from low-risk countries to visit areas in Cambodia deemed ‘safe’, in accordance with the country’s safety rules guiding participation in Covid-19 prevention,”he said.
He pointed out that the Kingdom earlier this year hosted the 24th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers, where measures and goals were developed to reopen tourism in the ASEAN region, with a focus on fully-vaccinated tourists.
“We have put in place a number of measures to prevent Covid-19 cases, including a plan to rehabilitate the tourism sector in accordance with the safety and hygiene rules that are to be implemented in the ASEAN tourism industry. This is part of Cambodia’s preparations for hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022,” he said.
Aquino agreed and pledged to further boost the number of tourists visiting Cambodia after the Covid-19 situation eases. “I firmly believe that the new light of the growth of the Cambodian tourism industry will rise in the near future because of the rich potential of cultural heritage, history and natural resources,” she said.
On May 24, a virtual closed-door meeting, led by the minister, set out key action plans that include preparations for the gradual reopening of tourism in October-December, with an initial focus on the Angkor area in Siem Reap province.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said private tourism businesses are ready to work with the government, through the ministry, on the revival of the Covid-wracked industry.
“We are ready to work with the government to build trust with tourists. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We have to regroup to reorganise our services together to receive tourists,” she said, stressing that Siem Reap’s tourism sector is in dire need of rescue.
On April 1, Prime Minister Hun Sen formally approved a 2021-2025 three-phased national tourism roadmap and a 2021-2035 Siem Reap provincial tourism development master plan to navigate the sector’s emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic and support its recovery.
A tourism ministry report revealed that 1.31 million international tourists visited Cambodia in 2020, down 80.2 per cent from 6.61 million in 2019, while Cambodian travellers made about nine million trips to domestic destinations, a year-on-year decrease of 20 per cent.
Last year’s decline in international tourist arrivals cost the Cambodian tourism industry more than $3 billion lost in revenue, with revenues from international tourism generating only $1.023 billion in 2020, down 79.2 per cent compared to $4.919 billion in 2019.