On the occasion of the 2022 global countdown to the New Year, senior National Assembly member Hun Many reflected on the fact that the heightened celebrations were a result of the Kingdom’s peace and development, and especially the government’s effective management of Covid-19.

The previous two years saw more muted celebrations, as the rest of the world struggled to bring the virus under control.

Many, a lawmaker for Kampong Speu province and president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), said the happy gatherings of large crowds of Cambodians across the country on the occasion of the New Year were a reflection of the “new normal” socio-economic reopening that the government had been able to implement.

Many made his remarks on December 31 at the Kampong Speu Provincial Stadium, where he was celebrating the New Year.

“Without peace, we would not have had the opportunity to meet like this. This is a source of pride for Cambodia, which is a small country with a big heart. Despite our small size, we have shown the world that we are capable of managing and protecting our territorial integrity, ensuring the well-being of our people and ensuring national macroeconomic stability for continuous growth,” he said.

Chhort Bunthong, head of the Culture, Education and Tourist Relations Department at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), echoed Hun Many’s remarks, saying that Cambodia has been truly peaceful since the end of the civil war. The Kingdom no longer has separate zones, and its people can travel the length and breadth of the country freely and without fear.

He said it was not just within the country that the Kingdom’s control of Covid-19 had been recognised. The international community had lauded Cambodia’s excellent work in reducing community transmissions, and especially the effectiveness of its world-leading vaccination campaign.

“Post-Covid-19, tourism has yet to return to its pre-pandemic levels, but this is because the Kingdom relies on international visitors. The Covid-19 situation has not improved as rapidly as it has here in many of our target countries, most notably China,” he added.

He believed that recovery of the industry would be dependent on other countries lifting their travel restrictions, and an improved global economic outlook.

“In order to restore the tourism sector, we should consider improving the infrastructure of tourist sites and hospitality standards,” he said.

On the occasion of the 2023 countdown, Siem Reap and Kampot provinces each welcomed about 330,000 tourists, a sharp increase on the previous year. Kep saw 90,000 tourists marking the occasion by the ocean, while tens of thousands of visitors flocked to the Kingdom’s other provinces.