Preah Sihanouk province is set to host two major international tourism-related events in late 2021 and early 2022, which insiders expect to ignite new interest among new and repeat foreign holidaymakers into visiting the Kingdom and significantly raise tourist arrivals from near zero in the Covid era.
The provincial capital Sihanoukville is due to host the Southeast Asian Sailing Championship from December 12-17 and the ASEAN Tourism Forum from January 16-22.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on October 2 that the events could turn a new page on this chapter of Cambodian tourism, mired in a Covid swamp for nearly two years, and bring international travellers back to the Kingdom.
"I have faith that the government and private sector will work well together to make both international events a success," he said, adding that a revival of international tourism marked by the events “is not too early for Cambodia".
And Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) president Chhay Sivlin suggested that positive results of the event could mean that the Covid-strangled Cambodian tourism industry might begin to breathe again.
To press her point, she made the case that the Ministry of Tourism has set out a number of guidelines and regulations for tour operators and visitors, aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
"These two events will be very influential in increasing attractiveness and building confidence, as well as promoting Cambodian tourist destinations to travellers of all nationalities," she said.
However, Cambodia also needs everybody’s participation to effectively drive down the rate of coronavirus infections and Covid-related deaths, Sivlin stressed.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on October 1 underscored that the success of the events would bring many positive effects for the tourism sector as well as the Cambodian economy.
"If done well, they will attract more visitors," he told Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and stakeholders at a virtual meeting held in preparation for the events.
The government chose Sihanoukville as the venue for the events due to its competent roads, tourism facilities and other infrastructure, as well as its proximity to an international airport, he said.
He also put forth that the vaccination rate among government officials, tourism staff and the general public in the province, as well as foreign residents who take domestic trips, have also surpassed plans.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun expressed determination to ramp up efforts to ensure compliance with tourism safety rules and minimum standard operating procedures (SOP), and any adjustments that may be drawn up based on “new normal” requirements, to pave the way for the events and the prompt reactivation of international tourism.
The vaccination rate of Cambodian and foreign residents in the province, aged 6 and over, has reached 100.30 per cent of the estimated total population in the province, he said without providing concrete figures.