Cambodia reopens to tourists slowly but surely

Tourists visit the reopened Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh on June 15, 2020 displaying mugshots of Khmer Rouge torture victims. - AFP

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): Tourism businesses in Cambodia have gradually reopened after the Covid-19 situation in the kingdom has eased, Tourism Ministry's secretary of state Tith Chantha said on Thursday (Sept 3).

Some 3,135 tourism establishments such as hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, massage-spa parlours, karaoke clubs, nightclubs, beer gardens, and tour and travel operators had been either closed or suspended between March and July due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting over 110,000 workers.

"To date, about 30 per cent of the closed or suspended tourism establishments have been reopened thanks to the demand of domestic tourists, as the number of foreign visitors to the kingdom is still very few," Chantha said during a press conference here.

"The gradual reopening of these businesses is very important to reduce economic hardship for both employers and employees," he said, expressing his confidence that more establishments will be reopened in coming months if the Covid-19 situation remains under control.

Cambodia has seen success in preventing the spread of the Covid-19. The kingdom has recorded a total of 274 confirmed cases to date, with 271 patients cured and three remained hospitalized.

Chantha said that due to travel restrictions, only three to five flights, carrying less than 1,000 passengers in total, land in Cambodia every day, mainly from China and South Korea.

Cambodia has seen a huge slump in the number of foreign tourists during the first half of this year due to the pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the kingdom received 1.18 million foreign visitors during the January-June period this year, down 64 per cent over the same period last year.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon recently predicted that Cambodia could lose about US$3 billion in tourism revenue in 2020 due to the decline in the number of international visitors.

"For 2020, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the number of foreign tourists to Cambodia could drop by 70 per cent," he said.

Tourism is one of the four sectors supporting Cambodia's economy as the country attracted 6.6 million international visitors in 2019, earning a total revenue of $4.9 billion.

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