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Preah Sihanouk province prepares for returning Chinese nationals

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
Chinese nationals arrive in Sihanoukville International Airport. Supplied

As the Cambodian government announced plans to allow the reopening of Casinos around the Kingdom, Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities have called on the people and business owners to prepare as more Chinese nationals return to the coastal province, taking advantage of direct flights.

Preah Sihanouk provincial hall spokesman Kheang Phearum told Khmer Times yesterday that as of June, more than 20,000 Chinese nationals arrived in the province on direct flights.

“I would like to call on all people in tourism-related services in Preah Sihanouk to be ready to welcome tourists, not only Chinese but all foreign and local visitors as the province is now improving its infrastructure while more Chinese nationals return,” he said.

Phearum said since reported COVID-19 cases in Cambodia have eased from May, currently, about 250 Chinese nationals are arriving at Sihanoukville International Airport per day.

“Some tourism-related services such as restaurants and guesthouses are reopening as they welcome more guests,since May,” he said

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the total population of Chinese in Preah Sihanouk was 80,000 or nearly half of the province’s total population. They have invested heavily in tourism, casinos, construction, services, manufacturing and mobile business along the street.

Phearum said Poipet, another Casino investment hub along Cambodia-Thai border, has also seen about 10,000 Chinese nationals returning.

“As we are expecting, foreign visitors and investors, to be back in Cambodia after the COVID-19 pandemic eases most will be Chinese nationals because they need to finish their current investment projects,” he said, adding that the business recovery in Sihanoukville will bring hope to the local people.

“Locals should start to see their revenues return, especially those who have properties for rent. This is because developers are facing issues getting loans from banks or MFIs to build rooms or houses for rent,” he explained.

Preah Sihanouk provincial Tourism department director Taing Socheat Kroesna said since more local visitors have come to visit the Kingdom’s tourism beaches numbers have been steadily increasing since May while Chinese are the only foreign visitors.

“We hope that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the province will become a more attractive tourism place than before as infrastructure is being improved and developed, security is being strengthened and the beach is  cleaner. In addition,  other tourist destinations in the province have also been created,” he said.

Kroesna said the government’s tourism policy attracts the Chinese people as well as others from  Asia, Europe and America.

“Service demand for Chinese is different from tourists from Western and others from Asia nations, so what we are doing now is to get many different types of tourists who can help the local economy,” he said.

According to official figures, more than 473,257 people visited Sihanoukville during the first six months
of 2020 a decline from 1,347,013 compared to the same time last year.

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