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Demand for urgent measures to increase tourist numbers

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Tourists visiting Sihanoukville. Hospitality operators are worried about declining numbers. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Because of the global tourism market slowdown caused by the Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 and its impact on Cambodia, the Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter (PATACC), which represents about 135 members across the country, has submitted a letter to the government requesting urgent measures.

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The letter obtained by Khmer Times, reveals the group has requested the government to consider seven key points and take concrete measures to boost the tourism sector.

The letter, signed by Thourn Sinan, chairman of PATACC, requested the government to consider reducing landing and parking fees of airplanes arriving from big cities around the world and allowing cruise ships to dock in Cambodia as well as reducing airport taxes for all passengers.

Members also asked the government to encourage more flights from big global cities to  Cambodia and from Cambodia to the rest of the world as a means to increase the growth of tourism to Cambodia.

At the same time, PATACC requested the Ministry of Economy and Finance to reduce the ticket price for visitors to the huge tourist attraction of Angkor Wat during the global slowdown (currently $37) and reduce or eliminate taxes in the hospitality sector.

Members want the government to increase promotion packages to expand and strengthen tourism through digital marketing and putting on exhibitions in other countries in East and South Asia, which are new markets.

They said government should support tourism operators through providing finance to communities that actively promote tourism destinations in Cambodia and, last but not least, request the government to sponsor and invite outbound agents from all over the world and the international media to visit Cambodia.

Chuk Chumno, spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, acknowledged that because of  Covid-19 and the global economic slowdown, a preliminary report for the last two months  saw a 10 to 15 percent drop in the number of tourists to Cambodia.

He told Khmer Times that because of the outbreak of the virus globally, the ministry of tourism has met relevant stakeholders, especially in the private sector and relevant government bodies to seek solutions.

“We have issued some policies to push the local tourist movement to create more interesting events in tourism destinations – such as Siem Reap. From this month, we aim to have one event in Siem Reap province to attract tourists locally and internationally,” he added.

As well as private sector involvement, Chuk added relevant government bodies, such as the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation and Cambodia Airports, to study the positive and negative impacts of any new policy.

“We hope that some tasks will be proposed and resolved during a meeting with the Prime Minister in early April during the annual public-private meeting event. We hope the subject of taxes in the tourism sector might be raised in the meeting as well,” he added.

Chuk pointed out that during the crisis period, tourists play a crucial role. “We have to expand the number of our tourism destinations, promote attractive tour packages to bring in local tourists such as travelling to public ceremonies and going to places at the weekend. So far in 2019 and early 2020, Siem Reap province has experienced a slowdown in tourism because some flights connecting to Siem Reap from overseas were suspended, so that has also affected tourism in Siem Reap.”

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