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Biz jet arrival lifts hopes for Sihanoukville: PM

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A beach view in Preah Sihanouk province. Heng Chivoan

Biz jet arrival lifts hopes for Sihanoukville: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen and aviation officials have hailed the recent landing of a business jet at Sihanouk International Airport, the first in several months, as a sign that the coastal province’s economy and tourism is on the rebound.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Cambodia-China Friendship Hospital in Tbong Khmum province on March 7, the prime minister welcomed the presence of the commercial aircraft at Sihanoukville’s airport, saying it was an indication that more such flights might follow.

“Last night, for the first time in a few months, a commercial plane landed in Sihanoukville. For a while now, the only landings were in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province. More landings will allow the economy to resume, even though tourism is not yet widespread,” Hun Sen said.

He used his speech to promote Cambodian tourism and investment, touting what he claimed were the Kingdom’s carefully managed yet unrestrictive Covid-19 protocols. “Travelling to Cambodia to invest in, and do business, is easy because in Cambodia, there are no quarantine requirements for vaccinated arrivals,” he said.

He noted that quarantine requirements remain for those who are unvaccinated, but for those who have been fully vaccinated, “we just do a rapid test and if a negative result is recorded, we let them continue with their travels”, he said, referring to Covid-19 testing at the Kingdom’s airports.

The premier also praised Covid-19 vaccines as a cost-effective tool to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. “Vaccines are economical, because without vaccinations, Covid-19 herd immunity does not exist. If we do not have herd immunity, how can we open up the economy?”

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on March 7 that the landing of a business jet in particular is a promising sign for Preah Sihanouk province’s economy as it could point to lucrative deals being made, which would spur economic growth and benefit locals.

“I think this is a good start for Preah Sihanouk province after a brief lull in commercial aircraft landings after the Covid-19 outbreak. We hope we can expect to see more of these planes carrying businesspeople,” he added.

But Chansereyvutha noted that the lack of details about the identities of the plane’s passengers and the exact model of aircraft would make it challenging for the landing to be a meaningful predictor of further economic outlook for the province.

Preah Sihanouk province hosted the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum from January 16-22, marking the reopening of the region’s tourist destinations after being closed to visitors for the last two years.

Along with Battambang and Siem Reap towns, Sihanoukville was declared one of the 3rd ASEAN Clean Tourism Cities for 2022-2024 by the Ministry of Tourism’s National Committee for Clean City Evaluation. This award will serve to make the towns more attractive to visitors as the Kingdom continues in its efforts to attract them.

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