Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreign tourist arrivals down 76.1%: Ministry

Foreign tourist arrivals down 76.1%: Ministry

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Tourists listen to a guide at Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on March 5. AFP

Foreign tourist arrivals down 76.1%: Ministry

International tourist arrivals dwindled down to 1,267,890 in the first 10 months of this year, sinking an unprecedented 76.1 per cent from the 5,296,088 recorded in same period last year, the Ministry of Tourism reported at the weekend.

This is a sobering reminder of the lingering damage that Covid-19 has inflicted on the sector, in an era where countries around the world have shuttered their borders and imposed travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.

A total of 734,309 tourists entered the Kingdom through its three international airports in January-October, taking an 80.2 per cent year-on-year nosedive, while 533,581 arrived by land or waterways, plunging 66.3 per cent year-on-year.

Chinese tourists once again topped the list at 314,291 visitors, representing an 84.5 per cent year-on-year dip.

Thai, Vietnamese and US tourists numbered 194,774; 181,328; and 55,170, all of which dropped by 41.5, 74.8 and 71.6 per cent year-on-year. Tourists from the UK, France and Japan all registered lower figures over last year.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on December 7 that while international visitorship to the Kingdom had managed to elude the dragnet of Covid-19 in its early months, it eventually caught up in March.

“We are all too aware that the current decline in international tourist arrivals is a universal dilemma. The bulk of the visitors we’re getting now are investors and that’s pretty much it,” he lamented.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on December 4 issued a press release stipulating health measures for all travellers who enter Cambodia from December 12.

The statement said all in-bound passengers must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and are required to obtain a certificate indicating that they have tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of departure from their country of origin.

Acknowledging that this would inevitably stymie the tourism industry’s recovery, Sopheak said it is a necessary measure that takes people’s lives into account and could potentially avert a health catastrophe.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak. Fresh News

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin noted that the tourism sector is reeling in the midst of a year-long dearth of visitors, with some businesses closing their doors and others clinging on for dear life as owners are forced to downsize or halt operations and tap personal funds to stay afloat.

She echoed Sopheak’s concerns that the health ministry’s new self-quarantine rule will further weigh down on international tourist arrivals.

“By my reckoning, the number of international tourists to Cambodia will only decline further for the remainder of 2020,” Sivlin said.

While tourism to the Kingdom had seen somewhat of a rebound recently, the “November 28 community event” put a swift end to the reverie, she said in reference to the first local transmission on November 28.

She called on the government to consider affording the tourism sector additional fiscal perks such as waiving penalties associated with tax debt over the full-year 2020 to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and ensure that more tour companies can retain their staff.

Cambodia attracted 6.61 million international tourists last year, jumping up 6.6 per cent from 6.2 million in 2018, tourism ministry figures show.

The Kingdom earned $4.91 billion in international tourism receipts last year, up 12.4 per cent from $4.37 billion in 2018, the data show.

And according to the World Bank, the tourism industry represented 18.7 per cent of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product last year, second after construction (and real estate).

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • Locally-trained commercial pilots to lift Cambodia’s aviation standard

    The Kingdom is boosting its civil aviation sector with the establishment of a flight school with a local airline to meet growth demands once air travel recovers At 22, First Officer Reachta Lim is the youngest commercial pilot in Cambodia. He flies with the national flag