Cambodia on October 28 rolled out two major instruments in relation to reopening plans for vaccinated visitors and safety protocols for travellers and locals.
These are the “Strategic Plan for the Reopening to Vaccinated Tourists” and the “Policy Measures to Promote the Internal Tourism Movement 2021-2023”.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the Kingdom will reopen its doors to fully-jabbed international tourists from November 30, starting in Preah Sihanouk province – including Koh Rong – and in the Dara Sakor area of Koh Kong province.
And a notice signed by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on October 26 indicated that Siem Reap province would follow in January.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth stressed that the novel coronavirus had generated a public health crisis and had a heavy socio-economic impact on almost all sectors.
Chief among them was tourism, which he said was a key linchpin for economic growth in the Kingdom.
Pornmoniroth, who is also Minister of Economy and Finance, said the tourism industry was the first to bear the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, as domestic trips suffered significant losses and visits from international holidaymakers dropped virtually to zero in 2020-2021.
Looking ahead to the overall post-Covid era market, the minister noted that the pandemic had triggered a fundamental shift in tourist behaviour that would alter the patterns of tourism movement across the region and beyond.
Travellers will tend to give more careful consideration to safety and choices of destinations, and the application of technology and innovation in the industry will increase on all fronts, said Pornmoniroth, who is also chairman of the National Committee for Tourism Development.
The minister asserted that the government launched the documents to better navigate these trends, as a “roadmap on plans to rehabilitate and prop up Cambodia’s tourism sector during and after the Covid-19 crisis”.
“These two important strategic documents reflect the Royal Government’s attention and commitment to rehabilitating and promoting the tourism sector, as well as seizing opportunities from the crisis to launch in-depth reforms, to turn Cambodia into a quality, safe and sustainable tourism destination that will bear fruit, contributing to the recovery of economic growth from the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.
He underlined that the instruments were designed to strike a delicate balance between socio-economic concerns and considerations for the safety and public health of travellers and locals.
In this regard, reopening plans for vaccinated tourists will be carried out step-by-step, in a proactive and cautious manner, in line with the unfolding of the Covid-19 situation, he said.
A fair share of resources will be dedicated to make it easier and safer for people to travel across the country, and to instil a spirit of patriotism, in line with the slogan “To love the country is to know its landscapes”, he added.
“At this time, we can gauge the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia as well under control, with low rates of infection and mortality.
“This optimistic outcome is the most important element of the foundation to support the reopening to vaccinated tourists from the international circuit and the promotion of domestic tourism, which is a decisive part of the gradual resumption of all socio-economic activity, predicated on the adjustment to the ‘new normal’,” Pornmoniroth said.
And the tourism minister shared that the private sector and all other stakeholders provided feedback for the two documents, which he noted were largely shaped by the sweeping fallout of Covid-19.
The disease has not only proven to be catastrophic for public health, but has also delivered a devastating blow to the global economy, sapping economic and trade performance in almost all sectors, Khon said.
“These strategic plans provide the vision for the restoration and development of Cambodia’s tourism sector, starting from the opening to vaccinated tourists, implemented through quality, safe and sustainable management with a ‘new normal’ approach,” he said.
Offering an intricate balance between health and socioeconomic interests under the banner of “safe travel and tourism”, the strategic plan charts a gradual recovery and encourages tourists and locals to pitch in for tourism development, to refashion Cambodia into a quality, safe and sustainable holiday choice, he added.
In a pre-recorded message played at October 28’s event, Prime Minister Hun Sen highlighted the significant bearing that the two instruments’ would have on the tourism reopening process and the rate at which Cambodians adjust to daily life in the “new normal”, saying the documents were designed to maintain an optimal level of both health and socio-economic safeguards.