The Ministry of Tourism is moving to restore the devastated tourism sector by preparing a so-called travel bubble plan to gradually receive international tourists, even if the Kingdom is seeing a rise in new cases of COVID-19.
According to the Ministry of Health, the total number of known infections in Cambodia has reached 240 with 32 recovering.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the ministry has already drafted guidelines on visits via a travel bubble, also described as a one-way closed-loop chartered plane journey in Cambodia.
“The ministry will consult with experts and the Ministry of Health to design a travel policy called a travel bubble to prepare tightly secured international tourist packages from regions or countries without COVID-19,” Khon said.
“If this plan is successful, it will enable Cambodia to build confidence in the recovery of the tourism sector and secure laid-off workers affected by COVID-19 and ensure economic growth,” he added.
For the reception of international tourists in the form of a travel bubble, Cambodia expects to receive retired and rich visitors, especially those from safe areas.
Khon said Asean and Asean-plus-three (China, Japan and South Korea being the additional three) will be the primarily targeted countries and the process must be conducted in gradual stages, with the approval of the Ministry of Health and with the permission of the Government.
The President of Cambodia Hotel Association (CHA) Clais Chenda, whose hotel and resorts in Ratanakiri and Kratie province have been reopening since early July, said that in this time of crisis, it will be decidedly hard to attract international visitors.
“We still cannot predict what is going on because there are almost no flights and people are still afraid while the world’s economy is slowing down so it is really difficult to predict,” she said.
However, she welcomed the ministry’s move to help the sector even during the crisis.
“Having strategies to attract international visitors in this pandemic by the ministry to help the sector is pretty good because we need to have some progress and take new measures to respond to the pandemic,” she said.
The minister has also urged airlines, hotels, other accommodation and businesses in Cambodia to strive to maintain hygiene, to better improve the confidence of international tourists, Chenda said. She added that complying with the ministry’s measures to contain COVID-19 will be okay for all hotels but the challenge is how to attract visitors.
According to a report from the Ministry of Tourism, more than 3,000 tourism-based businesses have closed and caused in excess of 50,000 job losses in the sector because there are no international visitors.