Cambodia tourism ‘to take longer to recover from pandemic than other sectors’
Khmer Times Thu April 9, 2020
Phnom Penh. Photo: Tourism Cambodia
PHNOM PENH – The tourism sector, which is the most vulnerable industry from the spread of Coronavirus, will see a slower recovery than other sectors after the pandemic ends, according to industry insiders.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, told Khmer Times yesterday that tourism is different from other sectors which will make a faster recovery after the virus is beaten.
“Tourism activity will not return to normal soon because it is a global crisis and it’s related to people’s feelings. People will need time to save money they lost during the crisis,” she said.
Chhay said it will take at least half to one year for people to start taking holidays while long-haul tourism could take longer.
However, she said Cambodia must be ready to welcome more foreign visitors after the situation returns to normal.
“We need to prepare in advance an attractive package with good promotions, good prices and diversify our eco-tourism destinations,” she said, adding that for Cambodia the tourism sector will still have room to grow.
“After Covid-19, I think Cambodia will be more attractive. Because of our kindness, tourists will remember our country and they will come to visit it. They will talk about Cambodia to others,” Chay said referring to Cambodia allowing the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville in February.
Covid-19 has affected a total of 630,000 people in the tourism sector and some 30,000 of them are now unemployed, according to Chhay, of which 10,000 were tour operators, 10,000 worked at hotels, about 6,000 were tour guides and others worked in restaurants, according to Chhay.
Ministry of Tourism data shows that Cambodia welcomed 6,610,592 foreign visitors last year, a 6.61 percent increase from 2018. Chinese tourists topped the list, with 2.36 million visitors, an increase 16.7 percent, Vietnamese ranked second with 908,803, up 13.6 per cent.
The Ministry’s data shows that the country welcomed 931,826 foreign visitors during the last two months of this year, a decline of 50 percent compared with the same period last year.
Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak said the ministry still promotes the tourism sector both locally and abroad although it cannot hold any special events or expos because of the need for self-distancing.
“It does not mean that we encourage people to travel during the crisis time but we just tell them about Cambodia and show images so they will have a choice to visit after the pandemic,” he said.
Top agreed with Chhay saying that the sector will eventually recover after the panic.
“Now the situation cannot be predicted and we are just waiting to see because it is a global issue. When Covid-19 ends, we will gradually see a small flow and not a big influx of visitors,” he said.
Hong Vannak, a business researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told Khmer Times this week that in addition to the garment sector, tourism has the most potential to boost growth.
“We have the infrastructure and what we need to do after Covid-19 is to reduce prices in the sector to attract more visitors to Cambodia,” he said.￼