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SOPs steer ‘new normal’ tourism

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In the first half of this year, 102,560 foreigners visited the Kingdom, down by 91.3 per cent year-on-year. Heng Chivoan

SOPs steer ‘new normal’ tourism

The Ministry of Tourism has introduced a set of minimum standard operating procedures (SOP) for four major classes of tourism businesses, which is geared towards the “new normal” of the industry.

These SOPs are tailored to support businesses in their daily activities and enable them to adapt to the post-Covid-19 world, as the Kingdom emerges from the pandemic and pushes ahead with plans to reopen tourism to fully-vaccinated international travellers towards the end of this year.

The four classes of businesses covered by the SOPs are tourism accommodation service providers; tourist eateries; tourist resorts; and eco- and community-based tourism operators.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on September 1 stressed that the SOPs and associated updates to tourism safety rules were in line with “necessary measures” adopted by the government and Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

The minister was speaking at a ceremony held via Zoom to promote the implementation of the SOPs and other legal standards.

He said the new implementation updates aim to respond to the trajectory of the Kingdom’s “new normal” and accord with the current situation.

He declared that the amended safety rules have been made mandatory, as were additional conditions in the application for new or renewed tourism licences.

“Tourism businesses that meet the criteria set out in the tourism safety rules will receive a certificate of business safety against Covid-19,” Khon said.

The SOPs cover fields such as – tourist flow management, safety and public health risk control for tourists and staff, advocacy and circulation of Covid-19 prevention measures, and fulfilment of relevant government policies.

The minister underscored that proper application of the tourism safety rules and SOPs will warrant the full confidence of tourists in these categories of businesses.

“We must all work together to turn the threat of Covid-19 into an opportunity to improve the quality of tourism services and attract more domestic and international tourists,” Khon said.

The government, via the ministry, has launched a host of safety and economic relief measures since the pandemic started, with a particular emphasis on the tourism sector, which has been among the worst affected by the crisis.

These emergency moves are intended to build crisis resilience and generate income for the general populace and the private sector, a considerable portion of which has been hamstrung by a dearth of international tourists.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said he was optimistic about the ministry’s tourism reopening plans, and implored the private sector to commit to quality services and conformity to the tourism and health ministry’s rules regulating the fight against Covid-19.

“The SOPs will be important to give tourists confidence,” he told The Post, adding: “The current vaccination situation for Cambodians aged 12 and over has also achieved good results.”

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on September 1 that his ministry has been working hard towards reopening tourism, an arrangement “which may materialise by the end of this year, maybe November-December”.

“But the exact timeframe for once again opening up to receive tourists in any capacity cannot be confirmed in detail, please hang on a little longer,” he said.

Tourism ministry figures show that, in the first half of this year, 102,560 foreigners visited Cambodia, a decrease of 91.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2020.

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