South Korean ambassador to Cambodia Park Heung-kyeong has joined in the pursuit to encourage residents of the East Asian country who are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to choose the Kingdom as their next holiday getaway, after tourism revival plans kick off in end-November.
At a meeting with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon at his offices on November 12, Park voiced support for Cambodia’s initiatives to open its doors back up to fully vaccinated international tourists, and vowed to intrigue and inspire more South Korean travellers to visit the Kingdom, noting that both countries have similarly high full-vaccination rates.
"I commend the tourism ministry for its work, especially on the roadmap for the enhancement and restoration of Cambodia's tourism sector during and after the Covid-19 crisis, through the introduction of a new master plan and strategy," he said.
To gain a better handle on the post-Covid tourism restoration process, the ministry has launched a series of new plans and strategies, such as the Siem Reap and Mondulkiri provincial tourism development master plans, vaccine tourism strategy and internal tourism policy.
The Kingdom will reopen its doors to fully-jabbed international tourists in a stepwise scheme from November 30, starting with Preah Sihanouk province – including Koh Rong – and neighbouring Koh Kong province’s Dara Sakor area, with Siem Reap province set to follow in January.
The tourism minister noted that more than 80 per cent of the country’s population had gotten a first coronavirus jab, which he chalked up to the attentiveness of the government.
Khon said the rising vaccination rate and increasing levels of community immunity and public awareness and education about Covid-19 in Cambodia have created an inviting climate for a phased resumption of socio-economic activities, which he stressed would require a high degree of responsibility.
He lauded the success of domestic tourism initiatives, which he noted are spearheaded by the minimum standard operating procedure (SOP) and “new normal” rules for the various tourism segments rolled out by the ministry, as well as a roadmap on the restoration and promotion of the industry during and after Covid, along with other strategic plans to safely guide the reopening of the country.
"The results of the domestic tourism restart provide insight into what’s to come with a full reopening to international tourism down the road,” Khon presaged.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on November 14 that South Korean travellers exhibit a higher propensity for visiting temples and natural attractions.
Much like their Japanese counterparts, they tend to stay in the Kingdom between three and five nights. But unlike their European and other counterparts, they prefer to hire South Korean guides and use services provided by their compatriots, according to Sinan.
"Less revenue will be directly provided to guides from local companies. Nonetheless, hotels, shopping centres and grocery stores could still enjoy many benefits that’ll help national economic growth," he said.
From January-July, a total of 2,171 South Koreans visited Cambodia, down by 95.9 per cent year-on-year from 53,169, according to the ministry.