Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Potential barriers to recovery as tourism stumbles into 2022

Potential barriers to recovery as tourism stumbles into 2022

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Kingdom welcomed 196,495 international tourists in 2021, down by 84.96 per cent year-on-year. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Potential barriers to recovery as tourism stumbles into 2022

Industry insiders have expressed concern about the challenges of the recovery in the tourism industry due to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, which is spreading across the world at an unprecedented rate, undermining hopes for a meaningful uptick in international tourists in 2022.

In 2021, international tourists reached 196,495, marking an 84.96 per cent drop from 1,306,143 a year earlier, of which air, land and inland waterway arrivals stood at 99,829 (down 86.8 per cent), 96,478 (down 80 per cent) and 188 (down 99.6 per cent), tourism ministry data show.

Thailand emerged as the top source of tourists at 81,844, down by 61.2 per cent, followed by mainland China (45,775, down 86.1 per cent) and Vietnam (22,120, down by 87.9 per cent).

The ministry listed other major sources as the US, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, France, Malaysia and Japan.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on January 6 that the whopping more-than-80 per cent drop in international tourists was not an uncommon phenomenon, with many countries suffering similar blows in 2021.

But after the government moved to allow the full-scale resumption of socio-economic activities in mid-November and kicked off an international tourism relaunch scheme that opened the doors to fully-jabbed travellers, it remains to be seen if tourism can return to a positive trajectory in 2022, he said.

Still, the influence of Omicron is gradually shattering the hopes of a substantial recovery in the Cambodian tourism sector this year.

“The number of people infected with the Omicron variant every day – especially in the US and Europe – is raising serious concerns for those in the tourism sector, even though Cambodia is open to welcome them.

“In addition, airlines’ continuing cancellation of flights is also an obstacle for those wishing to travel to Cambodia,” Sinan said.

However, he said collaboration between ASEAN and other countries such as China and India to facilitate would be an important contribution to reviving the overall sector.

The Cambodian tourism sector will continue to be at risk from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis in 2022, which will require government attention and assistance in the form of tax breaks, legal facilitation and other support, he said.

“Cambodia’s tourism sector, from tourism companies to travel agencies, restaurants and hotels, they really need more support from the government,” Sinan said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) president Chhay Sivlin said international visitors to the Kingdom remain limited despite tourism relaunch initiatives.

The advent of the new Omicron coronavirus mutation is putting the global tourism sector’s dreams of international tourist arrivals on hold, she lamented.

“Given the situation, the tourism sector really needs the help of governments to be able to support itself, and be ready to receive guests again once Covid-19 is completely under control,” she said.

However, Sivlin emphasised that the tourism sector is expected to gradually improve from mid-2022 onwards.


  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused