Fears have been raised among tourism players that a stringent set of Covid-19 testing fees for foreigners arriving in Cambodia will deter incoming visitors and hamper the country’s road to recovery.
On Thursday, the government announced all international arrivals must leave a US$3,000 upfront deposit in either cash or through a credit card to cover the costs of any coronavirus testing. Of that sum, US$165 will go towards paying for a Covid-19 test at a facility close to the airport, as well as one night’s accommodation and food while waiting for results.
If anyone on the plane arriving into the country tests positive, all passengers will be forced into a 14-day quarantine at a cost of up to US$1,276. If an individual tests positive, up to US$3,550 will be charged for 14 days treatment and quarantine.
This is in addition to previous rules that state foreigners must have US$50,000 health insurance and a Covid-19 negative certificate taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
Nick Ray, Hanuman Travel product director, said the DMC has started receiving a few high-end and business bookings for the end of 2020 going into 2021. With no date given on when the new measures will be reviewed, he fears the fees will now put people off considering Cambodia.
Said Ray: “This is almost a tourist ban in all but name. The interest (for Cambodia) is here, but if you’re looking at booking a holiday in South-east Asia in the future, then you (are going to) look at the restrictions and bans currently in place. This is off-putting. We need a timeline.”
Virginie Kury, general manager at Asian Trails Cambodia, added the move also hampers Cambodia’s ability to compete with other South-east Asian destinations for visitors, especially longhaul bookings.
She noted: “Other countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, are focusing on putting in place very clear health and safety measures. They will be the first places longhaul travellers will consider. These charges bring an extra challenge.”
On May 20, Cambodia lifted travel restrictions imposed in late March on the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Iran.