The Ministry of Tourism and Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), urged domestic tourists to travel within the country to boost and support the economic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tourism sector has been severely affected by the pandemic. From January to April 2020, Cambodia welcomed around 1.16million international tourist arrivals, which fell 52 percent, according to figures from the Ministry of Tourism.
Cambodia also saw a drop of 70 percent of international tourists, and 50 percent national tourists, and a loss around $3 billion that affected some other businesses in the hospitality sector, according to the figures.
Chhun Makara, director of the travel agency, transport and tourism guide department at the Ministry of Tourism, said the ministry is supporting internal tourism during the crisis because some countries have strict measures for international visitors or ban people from travelling.
“Cambodia does not ban or suspend the flights or close the hotels, restaurants, food courts and tourism sites, but Cambodia has applied the strict health measures, by temporarily suspending tourism visas and also closing some entertainment centres, massage parlours and spas, clubs and karaoke outlets which can easily spread the virus,” Makara added.
He added that although some businesses are not closed they do not have activities because there are no customers. Therefore, we encourage the people – both foreigners and local – to travel within the country.
At the same time, they should seek safety and health measures before considering a tour package. He said that internal tourism started to recover by the first week of May, which the ministry recorded around 150,000.
“To strengthen local travelling with safety and boost the economy as well as supporting tourism businesses, the Ministry of Tourism has issued safety and health measures to accommodations, restaurants, transportation, resorts, community eco-tourism, as well as some tourism training centres to strictly implement the safety and health measures,” Makara added.
“We push to have more travelling in the country and should encourage tour packages, which could help save costs, make prices reasonable, visit many places, have an experience in good hotels and include a tour guide,’ he continued.
Om Pharin, CEO of Charming Cambodia Tour, and representative of CATA, agreed that during the pandemic, only the domestic tourists can help the tourism sector. He said that in order to implement the safety health measures, all the internal tourists should consider the package tours in the light of COVID-19.
He added that travelling with the package tour, everything is set, including transport, restaurants, hotels, tour guides and many tourism site at reasonable prices. “The package tour for domestic tourists must have potential, a decent price, quality of service and safety,” Pharin said.
“So far, CATA’s members only have package tours for internal tourists, but not many are aware of them,” he added. Kampot province is a nature tourism destination and a coastal tourism destination, the latter second only to Preah Sihanouk province.
In Sitha, CEO of Forest Harmony, a local and French joint-venture which designs luxury holiday villas and second homes in Kampot province, said the company will also contribute to cater to the tourism sector because it is a place where tourists can see the different style of 1990 villas in both Khmer and European styles.
“The project focuses mostly on nature, lakes and mountains with 10,000 trees planted in 13 hectares of land,” he added.