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Tourism-related businesses fear virus reemerging

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
A Park Cafe restaurant in Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, Phnom Penh. KT/Siv Channa

Tourism related businesses and services remain struggling as new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, forcing the government to temporarily bans flights from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Many businesses reopened operations during late May after the country reported Coronavirus cases were easing. However, with new cases increasing since mid-July there is renewed concern.

Heng Sengly, managing director of the restaurant chain Park Cafe says that since the outbreak of COVID-19 seemed to be under control, the number of walk-in customers rose around 20 percent.

“We see in general that business is getting better compared with the previous three months when the government ordered the temporary closure of some businesses,” he said. However, Sengly said that with the rise in new cases
of COVID-19, the business remains fragile because people are still worried about infection.

“The new cases are not a good sign for tourism-related businesses such as restaurants and with more reported, people are now starting to worry again,” he said.

Sengly said the Park Cafe chain of 16 restaurants in Phnom Penh will further improve health standards to ensure  customers‘ safety.  “We have not seen any good signs for the industry yet as new cases keep arising,” he said. As of yesterday there were 268 cases of which 220 had recovered; 244 were imported; 24 were local infections; victims were made up of 12 nationalities but there had been no deaths.

The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health repeated their call for public and business operatorsto strictly adopt safety measures to contain the pandemic, particularly ahead of the previously postponed new year’s holiday.

Chhay Sivlin, President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said that the upcoming holiday is contributing to help the tourism sector at least during the pandemic.

“Hotels, guesthouses and restaurants are preparing to welcome customers and so
far they have received more bookings for the holiday, especially in Siem Reap where we have organised a floating market and events in front of Angkor Wat,” she said.

“We are worried when the number of COVID-19 increases that it would affect businesses. especially tourism-related services such as passenger transportation and accommodation services,” she said.

However, she said with the new normal practice released by the ministries to contain COVID-19 by adopting social-distancing and higher hygiene standards, the impact would not get bigger.

“We need the participation of the public,” she said.

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.

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