Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wuhan coronavirus: Tourism industry could hit turbulence

Wuhan coronavirus: Tourism industry could hit turbulence

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said the virus’ presence will contribute to the drop in the number of international tourists to the Kingdom. Heng Chivoan

Wuhan coronavirus: Tourism industry could hit turbulence

Tourism industry officials and representatives expressed concern that the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) will devastate Cambodia’s tourism industry following the Kingdom’s first documented case in the coastal province of Sihanoukville on Monday.

At a press conference late on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said Chinese national Jia Jianhua, 60, from Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak, tested positive for the virus.

Their aeroplane landed at Sihanoukville International Airport on January 23, he said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said the news will negatively affect the Kingdom’s tourism industry, especially in Preah Sihanouk province where many Chinese nationals reside and travel to.

The virus’ discovery is having an emotional impact on tourists, and bookings for tourism-related services have slowed, she said.

“I am concerned because tourism not only creates jobs for Cambodians but is a vital part of promoting Cambodia’s economic growth,” she said.

However, Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Tourism director Taing Sochet Kresna said last year’s government ban on online gambling had already reduced the number of Chinese visitors to the province.

“The figures would not drop significantly due to the discovery of the virus,” he said.

Local authorities, he said, are working hard to prevent further spread of the virus by disseminating risk prevention measures to the public.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said the virus’ presence will contribute to the drop in the number of international tourists to the Kingdom.

But, he said his ministry has introduced emergency mechanisms to maintain the number of visitors, placate the tourism industry and prevent the virus’ spread to other tourist areas.

“The first thing we need to do now is promote domestic tourism so that the sector can continue to grow,” he said.

Khek Norinda, the communications and public relations director of Cambodia Airports, the French-Malaysian joint venture that operates the Kingdom’s three international airports, said flights between the Kingdom and Wuhan city have been suspended.

All flights to the other 39 destinations in China will remain in operation as normal, he said, adding that there are six weekly flights to Wuhan – three from Siem Reap and three from Sihanoukville.

“Based on our past experience during the [2002-2004] severe acute respiratory syndrome [Sars] outbreak, we expect a negative impact on traffic at the three international airports. However, it is still too soon to assess its extent,” said Norinda.

He said the Ministry of Health and its quarantine services reactivated thermal scans between January 10 and 11 at the arrival gates of all international airports.

“The airports have posted recommendations by the WHO [World Health Organisation] and the Ministry of Health on our communications platforms, and we are providing masks to all of our personnel and gloves for the staff who clean aircraft cabins,” he said.

In the first 11 months of last year, Cambodia received 5.89 million foreign tourists, an 8.3 per cent increase from 2018’s 5.44 million, data from the Ministry of Tourism released on Tuesday showed.

Chinese tourists were at the top of the list at 2.18 million during the period, up 19.5 per cent year-on-year, followed by Vietnamese tourists at 809,170, up 15.2 per cent year-on-year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was