The Ministry of Tourism has drafted a strategy to serve as its roadmap to rehabilitate and promote the tourism industry during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
This comes as the sector begins to show signs of a recovery after countries around the world roll out Covid-19 vaccine campaigns.
A meeting between the National Tourism Development Committee and relevant stakeholders on December 24 agreed to divide the 2020-2025 strategy into three main phases.
These are Crisis Management in the New Normal and Tourism Resilience and Restart for 2020-2021, Post-Covid-19 Crisis Rehabilitation and Recovery for 2022-2023 and Preparation for New Future of Cambodia Tourism Sector for 2024-2025.
Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on Monday that the draft strategy was designed to ensure the self-sustainability of the Kingdom’s tourism industry in the context of the epidemic and prepare it for the post-Covid-19 era.
He noted that the ministry has, inter alia, introduced measures to combat Covid-19, developed new tourism products and trained human resources in a bid to support the sector’s sustainability since the novel coronavirus erupted.
“The draft strategy will be a roadmap guiding us on how to craft our tourism spots into all-round safe, cordial and trustworthy destinations that are in line with the new global tourism reality,” Sopheak said.
He noted that future trends of international arrivals to the Kingdom hinges on the progress humanity makes in controlling Covid-19.
“There are two scenarios – if Covid-19 can be fully controlled in 2021, Cambodia expects that the sector will have recovered by 2023. On the other hand, the number of foreign tourists may be similar to 2019.
“But looking at the current situation, the vaccine is not yet 100 per cent effective, so the Cambodian tourism sector’s situation could veer into the second scenario – it will take until 2025 to bounce back to 2019’s robust levels,” Sopheak said.
Cambodia attracted 6.61 million international tourists last year, jumping up 6.6 per cent from 6.2 million in 2018, ministry figures show.
The Kingdom earned $4.91 billion in international tourism receipts last year, up 12.4 per cent from $4.37 billion in 2018.
While the draft three-phase strategy was not comprehensive, Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said it was acceptable and had been discussed with the private sector myriad times.
The spread of Covid-19 had led to a major crisis in the economy of every country in the world, which he said will continue to encounter obstacles for a long time to come even if their entire populations were to be vaccinated.
“I think the tourism sector in Cambodia may take between five and seven years. Only then will the number of tourists to Cambodia be similar to what they had been in 2019,” Sinan said.
The government is currently developing special infrastructure in Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap provinces, which Sinan claims is part of the backbone that will help revitalise tourism in Cambodia.
From January to October, Cambodia received a total of 1,267,890 international tourists, down 76.1 per cent compared to the first 10 months of last year, which saw a total of 5,296,088 tourists visit the Kingdom, the ministry reported.