The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) expects Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s upcoming visit to Cambodia this weekend to pave the way for the resumption of direct flights between the Kingdom and Japan.
SSCA spokesman Chansereyvutha told The Post on March 14 that Cambodia had reached a preliminary agreement with Japan last year to restart flights, and that despite the Kingdom’s repeated requests, these plans have yet to be put into action.
“We hope that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit this weekend will signal the resumption of non-stop flights between the two countries,” he said.
He attributed the delay in plans to a collapse in air travel demand and other market forces, along with Japan’s Covid-19 quarantine requirements, which he said were still relatively strict and made travel difficult.
“We expect Japan to revise its quarantine rules, which could bring about a resumption of flights, given that Cambodia has been fully reopened since the end of 2021,” Chansereyvutha said.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy posited that the more direct air routes are established between the Kingdom and Japan, the greater the value of economic benefits for both countries.
He made the case that the unconditional reopening of borders and full lifting of Covid restrictions would unlock mutual benefits for both countries, arguing that quarantine, coronavirus testing and similar pandemic-era rules demand significant amounts of time and money from visitors.
“Between 2008 and 2009, Japanese travellers dropped from first to seventh in the ranking [of source markets], with most coming in as community tourists – meaning that they’d help poor communities in Cambodia.
“The private sector wants the Japanese to remove Covid-19 barriers, and expects the Royal Government to mediate on the issue,” Vandy said.
The SSCA reported that the number of domestic flights reached 127 in January, up by 18 per cent over December, and that international flights totalled 1,081, down by three per cent month-on-month.
The Ministry of Tourism reported that holidaymakers made 253,876 domestic trips nationwide at the weekend, on March 12-13, up 27.30 per cent week-on-week. Cambodians accounted for 242,188 or 95.40 per cent (up 28.59 per cent week-on-week), and foreign residents represented 11,688 or 4.60 per cent (up 5.38 per cent week-on-week).