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Empty hotels slowly start to attract people

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
The view of resort in Rattanakriri. Photo supplied

Hotels and international airports closed by the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to reopen this month.

Clais Chenda, president of Cambodia Hotel Association. said that because the virus situation is seemingly calm, some hotel owners confirm they will relaunch operations shortly and international flights are expected to commence from mid-June.

“I have discussed with members and they confirm they will reopen shortly but we don’t know exactly how many hotels,” she said adding, that even though the number of COVID-19 cases appears to have eased, the businesses will not recover quickly.

Chenda said her hotel and resort in Ratanakiri expects to reopen next month.

“It mainly depends on international tourists. We now hear international flights will resume by mid this month,” she said, adding that local visitors are too few to sustain her business.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the international airports around the world will reopen airspace from mid-June.

COVID-19 has closed hotels and grounded planes for many weeks. Now the human cost of this standstill is coming into focus.

So far around 169 companies in the tourism sector in Cambodia had also been closed temporarily, leaving a 16,891 people unemployed, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

To help to mitigate the sector, the government has launched four measures, extending for another two months a tax exemption from June to July for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and tour operators.

It also provided an exemption for tourism licence fees for 2021 and said they were not required to pay into the National Social Security Fund during the crisis.

Tourism insiders said that local tourism will not be sustainable over the long-term for the whole industry after COVID-19 ends and the full recovery of the sector will still mainly depend on international arrivals, which could take until 2023.

They insist that the government needs to be ready to welcome international visitors by working on a recovery plan and creating a national market development plan.

The Ministry of Tourism has introduced additional safety measures for hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, transportation and resorts to contain the pandemic after tourism activity shows signs of rebounding.Chenda said the government also needs to take this opportunity to make the country a clean place to relax after COVID-19.

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