Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia booked just $1.023 billion in international tourism revenue last year, representing a 79.4 per cent nosedive from $4.919 billion in 2019 due to the sweeping effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism ministry reported in April. Heng Chivoan

Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China.

Cambodia Chinese Tour Guide Association (CCTGA) president Tea Kileng told The Post on September 19 that CCTGA members were raring to return to work and welcome back international visitors, especially those hailing from China.

This brings tourism employers’ gruelling nearly two-year wait to a close, he enthused, noting that a sizeable portion have been forced to look into alternative ways to earn a living.

"We are ready to welcome [Chinese] tourists to Cambodia, although we do not think there will be many at this first stage," he conceded.

He shared that virtually all CCTGA members have been vaccinated, noting that they had numbered 827 before Covid-19 struck.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said the private sector was eager for as early a reopening as possible to allow vaccinated foreign travellers to once more explore and experience the Kingdom.

And as Thailand and Vietnam trial partial, restricted border reopening schemes, Sivlin warns that Cambodia will lose prospective visitors to the neighbouring countries if plans to open are left on the backburner for too long.

Alluding to the fact that Cambodia has a better grip on the Covid-19 crisis than its neighbours, she stressed that countries with a lower risk of contracting the novel coronavirus and higher rates of inoculation against the pathogen should be first to reopen.

"The high vaccination rate in Cambodia will be a pivotal consideration for Cambodia to reopen for foreign visitors that have taken the jab. We are looking forward to receiving them with open arms," she said.

The Ministry of Tourism has repeatedly stated that the plan is to open Cambodia’s borders to fully-vaccinated international tourists in October-December.

Speaking at the launch of Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children aged 6-11 on September 17, the prime minister signalled that he was keen to allow all businesses to reopen soon if the Covid-19 situation shows significant signs of improvement.

“No one wants to see closures like this, our people want to go out. I first want to reopen the education sector, followed by the service industry … [including] domestic tourism – our people want to travel on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays,” he said, indicating that international tourism would follow soon after.

But he stopped short of abolishing quarantine requirements, at least in the near term, one of the options that had been on the table.

Instead, he hinted at a model reminiscent of “sandbox” schemes piloted in Thailand and Vietnam, with a seven-day quarantine period under controlled but less restrictive settings, during which inter-provincial travel is forbidden.

“It will not be an in-room quarantine,” he assured.

Citing strong Cambodia-China relations and the relatively low rate of daily new Covid-19 cases logged in the Kingdom, Hun Sen said Chinese tourists may be the first to be allowed in any reopening scheme.

"Now let's all brainstorm a way towards reopening to [international] tourists. Do not forget that services lead the economies of developed countries,” he stressed, highlighting the lucrative nature of the tertiary sector, which he said eclipses industry and agriculture.

Cambodia booked just $1.023 billion in international tourism revenue last year, representing a 79.4 per cent nosedive from $4.919 billion in 2019 due to the sweeping effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism ministry reported in April.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42