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Slow-growing roots of recovery in nation’s hospitality industry

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
A view of a resort along a river in Kampot province. KT/Tep Sony

Reopened hotels are struggling to survive because they almost totally depend on local travellers. At the same time, most hotels in the country’s main tourism destinations remain closed, according to the President of Cambodia Hotel Association (CHA) Clais Chenda.

She has provided an update on current hotel business during the pandemic that shows so far the service remains little change since the pandemic started but some positive signs have emerged.

Chenda, whose hotel and resorts have just reopened, said: “We have not had any official data yet, but we just noted that some [hotels] started reopening from this July to serve just a small number of local visitors. My hotel has just reopened without foreign guests so we wholly depend on local visitors.”  She is the owner of the Terres Rouge Collection highlighting hotels off the beaten track and founder of the Chamkar Damnak Organic Farm in Kep and President of the nongovernmental organisation Airavata Elephant Foundation.

Government official claims that the Kingdom’s tourism sector has seen a recovery trend supported by locals and foreigners who live in Cambodia.

Phan Phalla, the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s secretary of state, said at a news conference on government measures in response to the Impact of COVID-19 Siem Reap province, where businesses rely almost totally on tourism services, is still suffering the worst.

“Siem Reap is undergoing the biggest impact because the province​is more reliant on foreign tourists and the situation is still the same but if we look at Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville, more hotels have reopened and at weekend the rooms are full,” he said.

Phalla said the recovery is because Cambodia doesn’t have an infection in the community.

Soy Sinol director of tourism department of Kampot province said numbers of visitors to Kampot province strongly increased during May and June.

He said in June alone the number of visitors – both local and foreigners – who live in Cambodia increased up to more than 90 percent compared with the same period last year.

“We welcomed about 160,000 visitors while this month in 2019, the number was just around 80,000. Kampot is the province with the most potential province because we have seasonal fruit such as durian and the location is near [to Phnom Penh] compare with other tourism destinations,” he said.

According to Sinol, Kampot has a total of 300  hotels, guesthouses and bungalows available for guests with a total of 4,000 rooms.

“Only small venues closed because of COVID-19 and most of them were foreigner-targeted but now some of them have reopened to receive local tourists,” he said, adding that so far there are a total of 40 venues targeting foreigners.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Tourism department director Taing Socheat Kroesna said the number of locals visitiing the Kingdom’s tourism beaches has rebounded since May while Chinese are the only foreign visitors.

According to official figures, there were 473,257 visitors in Sihanoukville during the first six months of this year, falling from 1,347,013 compared with the same period last year. The figures show numbers rose from May’s 11,241 to 25,247 in June.

Reports from Preah Sihanouk Provincial Tourism Department show that 197 tourism-related businesses were suspended, including 54 hotels – both standalone and those with casinos – with a total of 4,716 rooms, 16 guesthouses, 29 restaurants, 40 massage parlours , 25 KTVs, six resorts and other related businesses. The report shows 259 businesses closed, including 18 hotels, 107 guesthouses, 86 restaurants and 10 tourism agencies.

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