The number of international flights to and from Cambodia’s three airports in March is forecast to decline by around 40 per cent compared to December last year, since the Covid-19 outbreak.
The data was presented during a meeting between Interior Minister Sar Kheng and immigration police officers at Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday.
Reports from the three international airports said in December last year, there were a total of 4,241 international flights to Cambodia, compared to only 2,575 flights so far in March – a 40 per cent decrease.
The number of international passengers taking flights in December was down 55 per cent at 362,414, compared to 170,387 in March.
Sar Kheng said so far many countries had acted against the spread of Covid-19, despite knowing that some of their measures will have a detrimental effect on economic growth and the people’s livelihoods.
He also said that some countries have closed their borders, shut down airlines and gone into lockdown.
“That is why the number of flights to and from Cambodia is falling. For Cambodia, our airways are not closed, but in many other countries, they are closed. It could mean that we are also forced to close,” he said, adding, however, that so far, there were no plans to close the airport.
Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association (Katga) representative, Khieu Thy, told The Post on Tuesday that tourism in Siem Reap province is suffering the worst impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic, reducing visitors to nearly zero.
He said if scientists do not find a vaccine to treat the disease, the long-term losses in the tourism sector will be much greater. Currently, he said, many members of his association are staying home or have been forced to find other work.
He said last year, tourist guides in Siem Reap province could earn an average of $500 per month, but this has drastically fallen to almost nothing.
A Ministry of Tourism report released in January said Cambodia received a total of 547,963 international visitors, a drop of 15.3 per cent compared to the same period in last year.
The figures were broken down into air, land and waterway travellers with air visitors numbering 332,134, down 17.7 per cent while land visitors fell to 189,412, down 13. 6 per cent. However, waterway visitors rose eight per cent to 26 417.
The data also showed that Chinese tourists accounted for 123,550 – down 32.3 per cent from 182,449 while Korean visitors fell 10.1 per cent to 37 206. However, those from the US rose 0.2 per cent to 30,315.
There was also a rise in visitors through the borders. Thai tourists accounted for 53,874 – up 22.2 per cent, and Vietnamese tourists rose 19.6 per cent to 75,926.