An inter-minister meeting passed two tourism-related documents on October 13, marking the next step in the reopening process and renewing hopes among the private sector for a prompt return of travellers to kickstart the ailing industry.

These were the “Policy Measures to Promote Internal Tourism Movement 2021-2023” and “Strategic Plan for Safe Tourism”, the latter of which centres on creating a safe, comfortable and attractive environment for international visitors who are fully-vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

The online meeting was presided over by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, and attended by leaders and representatives of various relevant ministries and institutions.

The instruments were designed consistent with instructions made by Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 regarding a two-phased reopening process of the service sector – tourism included – with an initial focus on reviving the domestic segment before reopening borders to fully-jabbed travellers, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on October 14 that the ministry had set out some crucial conditions and key points in the safe-tourism edict, which he believes will soon receive the final greenlight.

On the same day, Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post that the meeting was a considerable step towards the resumption of tourism, with a special emphasis on safety concerns, noting a general downtrend in Covid-19 metrics, especially imported cases.

He stressed that the reopening of tourism is crucial, saying that the monumental move would not only create a wave of new domestic jobs, but also enhance economic growth.

Sinan suggested the government make the final call on opening the Kingdom’s doors to inoculated travellers ahead of neighbouring countries, and capitalise on the opportunity to woo and cater to more international guests.

He asserted that Cambodia can now be considered safe for tourism, noting that a substantial share of industry actors, as well as more than 84 per cent of Cambodians, have received at least a first coronavirus jab.

From January-July, Cambodia received 112,544 international visitors, marking a steep decline of 90.6 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the tourism ministry.