Some prominent professionals in the field have shared with Khmer Times their doubts over whether the Kingdom’s tourism sector will be able to recover from the fallout of COVID-19 next year.
“I am not optimistic about the recovery of Cambodia’s tourism sector for next year,” said Thoun Sinan, president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
There has been some promising news about vaccines. However, even if those vaccines are made available, they will take time to be delivered from one country to another. Human fear is still a major factor that stands in the way of tourism increasing next year. One more important factor to be faced is the economic challenge, he added.
Sinan said that COVID-19 hasn’t just affected Cambodia, the region, or even Asia, but all over the world.
“I am not optimistic that foreign tourists will return to Cambodia in 2021,” he said. “In order for all in the tourism industry to survive, we have to adapt to the current situation according to our skills and using our wits respectively.”
Sinan said that tourism operators have had to turn to other industries to support themselves at this time.
If the COVID-19 crisis continues for another year, Cambodia’s tourism industry could return to the state it was in between four and 10 years ago, warned Sinan.
Advisor to Cambodia Tourism Association, Ho Vandy, said any tourism forecasts must take into consideration how the COVID-19 pandemic is effecting the whole world.
“Some major world economists and analysts have already predicted that the world tourism industry will need between three and seven years to recover,” he said. “If COVID-19 is still spreading next year, it will be very difficult for tourists to travel, so we have little hope for tourism recovering in our country in 2021.”
Vandy, who is also the managing director of World Express Tour and Travel, shared the current situation of his company.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, World Express Tour and Travel had a total of 52 employees, who have now been cut to 25. Operation of the whole company is down to less than five percent.
The director of CS-Tour, a local tour agency based in Sihanoukville that specialises in cruise ship tours, Pheng Bunkea said there is no hope for his company next year.
“Our company’s clients are mostly from the cruise ships that normally dock at the port between December and March. Bookings have to start now but no one has booked yet,” he said.
Bunkea said that hotels, restaurants and other tourism services are still operating in Sihanoukville, but there are not many foreign tourists, only locals.
For sustainability of the tourism industry, Vandy called on all stakeholders in the tourism sectors to be patient, motivated, smart and hard-working, while calling on the public sector, especially the government, to continue helping the private sector.