Cambodia welcomed more than one million international tourists in the first nine months of this year, a 74 per cent decrease from last year.
Local tourists travelling in the country numbered a little more than seven million, a 50 per cent decline, according to a Ministry of Tourism report released on Sunday. The decline was attributed to Covid-19.
The report showed that from April to September, travelling changed dramatically. Entertainment tourism accounted for 43.4 per cent while business and diplomacy travelling made up 54.4 per cent. Other types of tourism rounded out the remaining 3.1 per cent.
The ministry expects local tourism will bounce back to normal within three years. The country is expected to see around nine million tourists this year and 11 million in 2023.
Ministry secretary of state Tith Chantha could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that Covid-19 does not only affect Cambodia but all countries in the world. He said many hotels in the Kingdom are closed because of a steep decline in international tourists.
“Even though the Water Festival festivities are suspended temporarily, local tourists will go to visit various provinces and rural areas. People who have simple guesthouses and shops in those locations will generate income from our local tourists.
“There is still a current of local tourists, which will generate income for citizens. Covid-19 can destroy us, but it cannot kill us,” he said.
Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said on Tuesday the tourism sector is more appealing than other sectors in Cambodia, but the decline has been drastic.
“The only thing that can restore tourism is to wait until the Covid-19 situation eases. Then we will reform ad reorganise tourism to have more interesting attractions than before,” he said.