Cambodia is drawing up a four-strategy approach to promptly restore domestic and international tourism activity and put the industry on a transition pathway to a sustainable and inclusive model that is resistant to future crises, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The prime minister made the remark in connection with the 41st World Tourism Day (WTD) international festivities set to be hosted by Ivory Coast on September 27 under the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
And the comment comes days after Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19.
The prime minister stressed that the Covid-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on all segments of the global tourism industry.
Last year, the number of worldwide international tourist arrivals shrunk by 73 per cent, putting between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs and hundreds of millions of indirect ones at risk, he said citing a World Trade Organisation barometer.
In Cambodia, international tourist arrivals decreased by 80.2 per cent in 2020, affecting more than 110,000 direct tourism jobs and tens of thousands of indirect ones, he said, highlighting that this negative trend is continuing well into 2021.
“Given the current context, as new Covid-19 virus variants continue to spread around the world and the future remains uncertain, the Royal Government of Cambodia has identified a key strategic angle that involves introducing policy to vaccinate people against Covid-19 as quickly as possible and achieve the targets,” Hun Sen said.
The approach also entails “continuing to improve the implementation of administrative and health-oriented measures, especially the ‘three do’s and three don’ts’ rules, which forms the backbone of a full resumption of socio-economic activity, a step-by-step process that hinges on the status of the continuum of the ‘new normal’ and requires a high degree of responsibility”, he said.
The four strategies put forth by the prime minister are – first: ramping up vaccination drives to instil confidence and build trust among national and international tourists and ensure their safety.
Second: encouraging the private sector, national and international development partners and relevant institutions, local authorities and the younger generation to work together towards the creation and maintenance of more diversified tourism services.
Third: cooperation between relevant ministries and institutions on tourism capacity building and training of youth workers for sustainable development in the industry.
Fourth: devoting more attention to safety and comfort considerations in carrying out the “Safe Cambodia” campaign to encourage domestic tourism.
And following a Ministry of Tourism meeting on September 22, minister Thong Khon affirmed that the ministry is working on ways to better guarantee compliance of standard operating procedures (SOP) at tourist attractions, as dictated by the demands of the “new normal”, and minimise the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.
This comes at the recommendation of the prime minister, as a means to spur domestic tourism, Khon said, adding that “almost 100 per cent” of workers in the industry are vaccinated nationwide.
Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on September 23 that the Kingdom’s exemplary vaccination rate would be a valuable asset in reopening and rebuilding the tourism industry.
“The successful results chalked up by the vaccination campaigns will accelerate Cambodia’s tourism industry, with other sectors growing in tandem as reopening in the area of international tourism leads to many more foreign investors travelling to Cambodia,” he said.
As of September 22, a total of 12,666,817 people had received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, representing 79.17 per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated 16 million population, according to the Ministry of Health.