Holidaymakers made 138,099 domestic trips across Cambodia during the third weekend of the month, from October 15-17, with Preah Sihanouk province ranking as the top destination, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Although the volume of people going on holiday has dipped from Pchum Ben days, the figure indicates that the number of domestic trips at the weekend across the Kingdom climbed up by 35.31 per cent from the 102,063 that the ministry reported for September 24-26.
The ministry noted that 135,066 Cambodians and 3,033 foreign residents visited Phnom Penh (25,698) and the provinces of Preah Sihanouk (28,728), Kampot (18,437), Kampong Speu (8,555), Siem Reap (7,687), Pursat (7,459), Kep (7,136), Mondulkiri (6,936) and Kandal (5,586).
The remaining 16 provinces saw 21,877 visitors over the three days, each with fewer than 3,500.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon views this as a positive sign for domestic tourism, following sharp Covid-led declines, especially amid the spiralling third wave of coronavirus infections, dubbed the “February 20 community event”.
The uptick in travel within the borders signals a material rise in domestic tourism activity after the Covid-19 outbreak has eased to a certain extent, strongly underpinned by the success of ongoing vaccination campaigns, he said.
“Even though the long Pchum Ben observance and holiday is over, the influx of domestic travellers to tourist destinations is evidence of significant ongoing activity,” he said.
On a per-day basis, the number of domestic trips over October 15-17 fell by 64.63 per cent from the main Pchum Ben week – 911,147 from October 4-10, as reported by the ministry.
Khon stressed that as domestic tourism begins to pick up, the authorities are actively working to push the associated minimum standard operating procedure (SOP) and other tourism safety rules.
He said officials regularly reach out to business establishments and evaluate their compliance with relevant regulations, especially when it comes to the verification of Covid-19 vaccination documents.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said that internal tourism movement, as it moves along a gradual recovery path, will become a primary driving force behind the revitalisation of the industry, which has been brought to a virtual standstill by Covid-19, and further hamstrung by the February 20 outbreak.
She believes that the success of the domestic segment would illustrate the potential of the Kingdom to the international tourism market.
“The decline in new [coronavirus] infections and high vaccination rates in Cambodia is a positive sign for the tourism sector,” she said, deeming the increase in domestic travel a substantiation of confidence in and assurance of the safety, security and Covid-19 measures in place across the Kingdom.
Domestic travellers made about 9.04 million trips across the country last year, according to the ministry. Cambodians accounted for 7.23 million, down by 36.1 per cent year-on-year, and foreign residents 1.81 million, falling by 78.3 per cent year-on-year.