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Sihanoukville ‘must be ready for returning visitors’, say experts

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
Sihanoukville beach will be improved, say authorities. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Minister of Tourism said that business operators in Preah Sihanouk province and authorities at all levels need to be ready to welcome tourists returning after COVID-19 is defeated as the province improves its infrastructure.

Ministry of Tourism Minister Thong Khon said during the promotion of safety measures to tourism-based businesses in Preah Sihanouk province that the health and safety measures imposed by the ministry will ensure businesses operate well during and after the pandemic while authorities will play an important role to support stability.

“If all operators and authorities do not help each other during this time, our tourism sector will not be successful after and during COVID-19,” he said.

The tourism-based businesses and services that are being promoted during the pandemic are hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, tour transportation by both land and water, tourism communities and resorts.

The Minister has also urged the provincial relevant parties to keep checking and examining carefully the implementation of safety measures in order to ensure businesses succeed.

“In this situation, all levels of relevant parties, which are regarded as the government’s machinery to contain COVID-19 and support business activity, need to support the implementation of safety measures and provide cooperation in all forms,” he said.

Khon said while the coastal area comprises mixed services and businesses, the sector also needs to diversify to new business models to comply with the current social and economic situation.

“During the pandemic, businesses and services need to be transformed into a digital solutions-based resource and improve productivity in order to make the sector more competitive in the crowded market,” he said.

The Kingdom’s coastal Sihanoukville, where Chinese nationals dominated nearly half of businesses before the COVID-19 outbreak, have been seen as less attractive as a tourism destination by some since 2018.

With the rising number of Chinese nationals, roads have been damaged and security issues have declined because the province was swamped with casinos. Local visitors and other foreign tourists tended to avoid the province and went to other destinations such as Kep and Kampot.

However, the government is now working to improve the situation, pledging to transform the Kingdom’s only attractive beach into its former glory.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Governor Kuoch Chamroeun said during the meeting that to boost the province’s social and economic development as well as making the tourism sector more sustainable, the provincial authorities have been paying attention to improving roads, beaches, water, electricity and waste management.

“We are preparing the tourism port by providing a standard tourism service. We are strengthening security and safety and public order. We will offer public transportation services and make the city clean to attract more visitors to the province,” he said.

Thousands of Chinese left the province after a directive banning all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom last August and more have left because of COVID-19. The return of Chinese nationals is expected to help economic activity gradually rebound.

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