Cambodia booked just $1.023 billion in international tourism revenue last year, representing a 79.4 per cent nosedive from $4.919 billion in 2019 due to the sweeping effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism reported on April 19.
The Kingdom welcomed 1,306,143 international tourists in 2020, down by 80.2 per cent from 6,610,592 in 2019, according to the 2020 Tourism Statistics Report.
It said the tourism and travel industry accounted for three per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a far cry from the 12.1 per cent chalked up in 2019.
"The Covid-19 crisis has had a substantial bearing on global development in all areas. Of note, the Cambodian tourism sector must wait three-to-five years to be able to return to its former form. But if Covid-19 persists, it could take up to seven years to do so,” the report said.
After the pandemic has gone, international tourist arrivals will undergo a low-growth, U-shaped recovery, it claimed.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post that no country can expect a quick recovery in international tourist arrivals, and that includes the Kingdom.
"Cambodia's tourism sector needs at least another five years to be as strong as it was before the Covid-19 epidemic," she said.
Revenue from international tourism in 2019 had risen 12.4 per cent from $4.37 billion in 2018, ministry data show.
The road going forward will be rocky at best for the Cambodian tourism sector this year, with the ministry positing a gloomy forecast, seeing a further contraction of 60-70 per cent in international arrivals this year.