Cambodia lost $5 billion in tourism revenue in 2020 because of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism secretary of state Tith Chantha said.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chantha said: “Our tourism sector earns about $6 billion a year from domestic and international travel. But we have lost international tourists and we can lose national tourists too. We studied the impact and we have lost $5 billion from our annual revenue.
He said a resurgence in domestic tourism is helping and Cambodia could regain between $500,000 and $1 million from now until the end of the year.
Chantha said there was still international tourism in January and February, but since March it has died from flight and travel restrictions as part of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Currently, international tourists to Cambodia are only in the category of business tourism, which means only business people who come to do business in Cambodia. There are no ordinary international tourists,” he said.
The impact hit hardest in March and April with almost 90 per cent of guesthouses, restaurants and tourism services temporarily suspended due to Covid-19.
“Although international tourism is still not active, domestic tourism is doing well and about 30 per cent of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants have reopened across the country and are preparing for the future,” he said.
During the recent rescheduled New Year holiday, there were about 1.5 million domestic travellers from all over Cambodia, including around 14,000 foreigners residing in the country.
Activities, including accommodation, eating and visiting, brought about $100 million in economic revenue to Cambodia during the holidays.
When tourism will make a full comeback remains uncertain, he said. If an effective vaccine is found, Cambodian tourism could improve by 2022, he speculated.
“If a vaccine takes longer, then the return of international tourists may be slower,” he said.
Tea Kileng, president of the Cambodia Chinese Tour Guide Association in Siem Reap province, told The Post on Thursday that Covid-19 had completely affected the work of tour guides because most of them had no other alternative.
“Tour guides are forced to find temporary work, but most cannot because there are more than 5,000 guides of all languages in Siem Reap. So, finding jobs is difficult for them. Only a small number can find a job to deal with daily life in these difficult times,” Kileng said.
The Ministry of Tourism has developed a special tourism policy to address the problem. If Covid-19 continues for a long time, Cambodia will use the so-called “walking in the middle” method, which means accepting international tourists while ensuring that they come under control to minimise Covid-19 transmission risks.