Cambodia's tourism sector has emerged from a “mystery disease” scare unscathed, industry insiders said yesterday, although some regional health authorities noted what the World Health Organisation called an outbreak of Enterovirus-71 (EV-71), which has killed at least 52 children in the Kingdom.
“The disease has only affected children under the age of 10, so I don’t think this will have much of an affect on the tourists that come to Cambodia,” said Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said yesterday health authorities had handled the situation well and the industry had been unaffected.
Health departments in Hong Kong and the Philippines have issued notices concerning the Cambodian outbreak. Neither country has warned against travel to the Kingdom.
All passengers arriving in the Philippines are being screened. Hong Kong authorities have monitored the outbreak and doctors have been alerted for potential cases, according to a statement from Hong Kong’s Department of Health.
“Our position is very much dependent on the WHO position on this disease. Right now, we have not issued a travel warning,” Chris Cheung, a communications officer at the department, said yesterday.
The WHO has not issued a warning against travel to Cambodia.
The news had not deterred Filipino travellers, K C Vicebo, outbound manager at the Manila-based travel agency Scorpio Travel and Tour, said.
Unlike other outbreaks of infectious diseases in the region, EV-71 had flown under the radar of most Filipino travellers in Cambodia, she said.
“SARS was scary. It really affected travel to Hong Kong a few years ago. But these days we haven’t seen any kind of reaction here,” Vicebo said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at [email protected]