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Airports hope for more visitors despite tough $3,000 deposit

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodia’s international airports are hoping for more visitors despite strict conditions on entry. KT/Pann Rachana

Cambodia Airports, which has been developing three international airports in the country, is looking forward to seeing travellers back in the Kingdom despite strict government health measures and a prolonged suspension of tourist visas to foreigners

France’s VINCI Airports, which is a shareholder of 70 percent of Cambodia Airports, said that the situation has slightly returned to normal because some countries have lifted their travel bans.

“Our sister companies start resuming their commercial flights at the beginning of June. Strong health and safety measures have been implemented at all our airports, such as the obligation to wear a mask throughout all the journey and at the airport. In Cambodia, we are looking forward to seeing travellers return,” the company said.

Cambodia Air Communi​cations and Public Relations Director Khek Norinda said by email yesterday that air traffic has remained largely tepid and only a few airlines have been operating with reduced frequencies since​ the beginning of the viral outbreak.

“Some airlines have considered restoring flights to Cambodia in the next three months pending better market conditions and countries easing travel and border restrictions,” he said.

Norinda said while the company fully supports the government’s policy to combat the spread of COVID-19, this recent measure may give the perception that visiting Cambodia is costly.

“In this very adverse situation, that’s not the message one would want to convey when it is critical to lure leisure and visitors back,” he said.

Cambodia’s tourism and aviation have been gravely threatened by new requirements imposed by the government and may deter travellers visiting the country even though the fear of COVID-19 has eased.

The visiting measures require foreigners to pay a $3,000 returnable deposit that many say would kill the tourism and aviation industries.

However, the government said that it will not charge Cambodians holding foreign passports for laboratory testing and medical treatment while foreign diplomats are allowed to self-quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom.

A statement issued by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat COVID-19 said that Cambodians holding foreign passports with the K Visa will be exempted from paying health insurance and the $3,000 deposit as well as the lab test, undertaking quarantine and forking out for treatment.

Chea Aun, spokesman of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said early this month that there were about 200 to 300 passengers entering Cambodia per day.

He said after Cambodia lifted the ban on people from six countries, the number has seen an increase of between 20 and 300 passengers per day.

The Kingdom’s three international airports welcomed 11.6 million passengers last year, a 10.2 percent increase from 2018, according to a report from Cambodia Airports

In 2019, Phnom Penh International Airport exceeded six-million arrivals, an annual increase of  11.2 percent, while Sihanoukville International

Airport saw 158 percent increase to 1.6 million passengers and Siem Reap International Airport, in contrast, saw a decline of 12.3 percent with just 3.9 million people passing through the airport.

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