Internal travellers are giving the Kingdom’s tourism sector, devastated by COVID-19, a breath of fresh air, according to insiders.
The Kingdom’s tourism attracted more than 1.4 million internal visitors, both locals and foreigners who are living here, during the week of Khmer New Year substitute days even though the country issued cautions over the pandemic, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said that the holiday contributed to helping the tourism sector during the pandemic.
“We saw a lot of people travelled to tourism destinations across the country during the holiday because they felt more confident about the government’s safety measures to contain COVID-19 while they also paid attention to health and safety,” she said.
Sivlin said with good cooperation between relevant parties, state institutions and the private sector to curtail the pandemic and promote the sector during the holiday, people felt safe while tourism service providers also paid much attention to comply with the government’s safety measures.
“With no international visitors, local people gave the sector a breather and at least locals can help it to keep operating during the pandemic,” she said.
However, she said the sector remains strongly dependent on international visitors because locals pay less while on vacation.
“What we are concerned about is that operators would give up their careers and then we will lose human resources in the sector so local people are the saviours and at least helped the sector to remain in operation.”
The government offered a five-day holiday, starting from Monday, in compensation for the Khmer New Year holiday postponed in April.
During the holiday, which witnessed people travelling all over the country, the Ministry of Tourism asked tourism-related businesses to provide information about their customers by a Telegram bot in order for the ministry to assist in the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom.
Cambodia reported no new positive cases of COVID-19 during the holidays. The tally remains at 273.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also urged people to pay high attention to limiting any possible expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President of the Cambodia Hotel Association (CHA) Clais Chenda, whose hotel and resorts in Ratanakiri and Kratie provinces, have been reopening since early July, that rooms almost fully booked for the holiday while complying with the Tourism and Health Ministries’ safety measure in order to contain the pandemic.
“We were in a good position during this holiday. We could earn some revenue after losing almost a half a year’s income since the pandemic began. We were grateful to have such a long holiday,” she said.
Chenda said that her hotels provided room discounts from 20 to 30 percent during the holiday, according to length of stay.
“Our rooms in Ratanakiri were almost full because people now prefer to travel long destinations to enjoy eco-tourism sites,” she said. However, room occupancy in Kratie was below 50 percent.
She said that while still waiting for international tourists to ensure the survival of the sector, tourism leaders hope to see more revenue from locals until the peak season ends at the end of the year.
It is estimated by tourism observers that Cambodia will lose around $3 billion in revenue from tourists because of the lack of international visitors and the sector would take up to seven years to recover.