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Tourism ‘may take 7 years to recover’

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
With travel restrictions in place around the world and the Coronavirus pandemic keeping would-be foreign tourists at home, one of the world’s most famous wonders, the early 12th-century Angkor Wat and surrounding temples, has been left largely empty for months. KT/Khem Sovannara

The Ministry of Tourism has predicted that in the worst-case scenario tourism could take up to seven years to return to normal because of Coronavirus.

The ministry said that the COVID-19 crisis has had a profound effect on the development of the world in all areas, particularly the tourism sector.

In the context of the pandemic, Cambodia’s tourism sector in 2020 is projected to have three scenarios. In the first it will decline from 50 percent to 60 percent, with an expectation of receiving about 2.5 million international tourists, In the second, it will  decrease by 60 to 70 percent with approximately 2 million visitors. In the third scenario, the sector will decrease from 70 to 90 percent with about 1.5 million international tourists expected.

With the uncertain state of COVID- 19, Cambodia is likely to suffer the third scenario, which will take up to seven years for the sector to return to normal, according to the ministry, with the best situation taking three to five years.

In that worst-case scenario, Cambodia will lose about $3 billion in revenue from international tourism, reducing its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) from more than 12 percent to less than 10 percent, the ministry said.

The report noted 3,135 tourism establishments have been closed either permanently or until customers return as of July, including hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, massage parlors, tourism agencies, karaoke businesses, bars and beer gardens.

As a result, more than 110,000 people have lost their jobs. Massage parlors, karaoke bars, pubs and beer gardens have been the worst-hit areas.

However, the Ministry of Tourism is preparing plans to encourage domestic travellers to support the economy. It also sees the crisis as an opportunity for educating people to implement what it calls a new normal protocol.

“The pandemic has reflected more the importance of the tourism industry as the backbone of the national economy,” it stated.

The Ministry of Tourism is preparing a so-called travel bubble plan to gradually receive international tourists designed to receive retired and rich visitors, especially those from areas regarded as safe. Asean and Asean-plus-three (China, Japan and South Korea) will be the primary targeted countries.

For the first six months of the year, Cambodia welcomed more than 1.18 million arrivals from abroad, a drop of 64.6 percent compared with the same period last year.

In its projection, Cambodia has predicted that the number of international visitors would rebound between 25 percent and 35 percent in 2021, generating about $2 billion and contributing 500,000 jobs.

In 2023, when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games, it expects to see foreign visitors increase 30 to 35 percent, generating between $2.5 billion and $3.5billion, the ministry said.


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