Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges


Cambodian tourism minister Thong Khon (right) and newly-minted Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttam Khobragade. - The Phnom Penh Post/Asian News Network

PHNOM PENH, Jan 23 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttam Khobragade on January 20 at the ministry.

Khon said the two countries have had a long history of cultural and religious ties, with scores of Cambodians enjoying religious tours to holy sites across India prior to the pandemic.

He asked the Indian government to reschedule religious tour packages after Covid-19 cases had been “completely brought under control” to foster active tourism cooperation.

Khobragade stressed that a direct air route connecting the two countries is one of her priorities and expressed her keenness to work with the ministry and others stakeholders to ensure its success.

She said: “I fully agree and support this initiative because it will bring a lot of benefits to the tourism sector, considering how young Indians nowadays really like these kinds of tourism tours.”

Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association (KATGA) president Khieu Thy told The Post on January 21 that direct flights with the world’s soon-to-be most populous nation would be a boon for the Kingdom.

Visits to ancient Khmer temples remain all the rage among Indians, he said, noting how closely related the religions that inspired their construction are with those of India.

“The number of Indian tourists coming to Angkor Wat has increased every year and this will create more jobs for local people,” Thy said, not accounting for 2020.

However, he asserted that Indian visitors could be a tad more frugal, querulous and demanding, requiring extra attention. “Due to the class divisions of Indian society, most tourists consider themselves as deities who require the utmost care.”

Chan Sopheak, a Cambodian with several trips to India under his belt, said that while news surrounding Cambodia-India direct flights have been leaking for more than a year, nothing has yet to materialise – a fact he blames squarely on Covid-19.

Direct flights would make travel between the two countries faster and more affordable, he said, pointing out that a journey in bygone pre-Covid days would take at least six hours, depending on the country being transited – usually Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia or South Korea.

“A direct flight will not only save time and money, but will also help Cambodia reel in more tourists from India and its neighbouring countries,” Sopheak said.

With the impact of the coronavirus outbreak leading to a raft of flight cancellations, most trips from Cambodia to India now pass through South Korea, or transit in Singapore and then Dubai in the UAE, he said.

A memorandum of understanding between Cambodia and India that authorises the rights to operate a direct flight was signed back in 2002, according to Secretariat of State for Civil Aviation spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha.

According to a report from the tourism ministry, 1,286,074 international tourists visited Cambodia in the first 11 months of last year, down 78.2 per cent from 5,898,130 in the corresponding period in 2019.

Indians accounted for 12,869, marking an 80.2 per cent drop from the 65,077 tallied in the same period in 2019. - The Phnom Penh Post/Asian News Network

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

100% readers found this article insightful

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines as at 7pm on Tuesday (March 2)
Myanmar's Asean neighbours press for Suu Kyi's release, restoration of democracy after special meeting
Health ministry confirms Indonesia detects 2 cases of new Covid-19 variant as country's total surge past 1.345 million
Philippines says vaccination drive "very successful" as country logs 2,067 new Covid-19 cases as total tops 580,000
Singapore: Hotels, travel agents and tour guides licence fee waivers extended to end-2021; 8 new imported cases on Tuesday (March 2)
WHO: Global Covid-19 infections up for first time in 7 weeks
Philippines fires diplomat whose maid attacks were caught on film
Singapore PM calls for Suu Kyi release, says sanctions won't hurt military - it's an 'enormous, tragic step back'
Thailand: 10 groups of people prohibited from taking Sinovac vaccine; only 42 Covid-10 cases on Tuesday (March 2)
‘Stop meddling’: Beijing accuses Taiwan of hypocrisy over Hong Kong arrests

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers