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Rising tourist numbers prodding travel-linked businesses to reopen

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Visitors visited Nesat beach located in Chhouy Svay commune’s Nesat fishing village, Srae Ambel district, Koh Kong province 20km from National Road 48. Hong Menea

Rising tourist numbers prodding travel-linked businesses to reopen

Increasing domestic and foreign tourist figures are revitalising the tourism sector where 520 hotels and guesthouses out of a total 739 in Cambodia have reopened as of July 31, after being severely affected by Covid-19 for more than two years.

Of the remaining number, 190 businesses are temporarily suspended while 29 others have closed down permanently, a Ministry of Tourism report stated on August 27.

The report also showed that there are currently 2,529 restaurants, where more than 2,000 are open, and 363 businesses are still closed.

Top Sopheak, ministry secretary of state and spokesman, said Siem Reap was the worst affected province as 90 per cent of businesses were temporarily or permanently closed.

However, 46 per cent of those affected businesses have reopened as the tourism sector recorded a steady increase of domestic and international tourists in Siem Reap.

“We expect international tourist numbers to increase during the peak tourist season of October, November and December. This will help those previously-closed tourism businesses to reopen,” Sopheak said.

At present, there are about 5,000 international trips made each day, including 700 to 800 to Siem Reap.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post that the easing of Covid-19 has enabled the Cambodian economy to recover and the tourism sector to move forward slowly.

The slow growth of the sector is linked to international issues, such as the Ukraine crisis and global economic slowdown, which has led to the suspension or delay of cross-border tourism plans.

“Although international tourists have not yet increased significantly, the growth of domestic tourism is contributing significantly to a demand for accommodation,” she said.

To help the tourism sector recover from the pandemic, the government announced the implementation of the $150 million Tourism Recovery Co-Financing Scheme (TRCS) in May this year.

The sum is made up of $75 million from the government via the Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc and $75 million from participating financial institutions. Borrowers can take up seven-year term loans of up to $400,000 with a ceiling interest rate of 6.5 per cent per annum.

In the first seven months of 2022, Siem Reap saw more than 740,000 international visitors, marking a 560 per cent rise year-on-year. At the same time, a total of 1.24 million domestic tourists and foreign residents visited the ancient province, up by 890 per cent on a yearly basis.

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