Cambodia mulls international tourism restart late-2021

Cambodia’s tourism players have welcomed preliminary plans to welcome back vaccinated international tourists in 4Q2021, with little or no mandatory quarantine.

At a meeting on April 27, tourism minister Thong Khon said the tourism and health ministries will work together to evaluate if foreign holidaymakers from low-risk countries who have been vaccinated can enter Cambodia with reduced or no quarantine.

Discussions are underway for Cambodia to remove mandatory quarantines for vaccinated international travellers; a monument of King Norodom Sihanoukin in Phnom Penh, Cambodia pictured

Cambodia has suspended the issuance of tourism visas since April 2020. Additionally, all current arrivals must spend 14 days in a designated quarantine hotel.

Ronni Dalhoff, managing director of Diethelm Travel Cambodia, is advocating for quarantine to be totally scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers. “People won’t go on holiday and sit in quarantine for weeks. Instead, they will look at countries where they don’t have to.”

He added: “It’s important we’re the first to safely open borders in the region because if we’re among the last, or Thailand or Vietnam beat us, we will be left behind.”

It is also essential that an action plan is drawn up and announced quickly, said Nick Ray, Hanuman Travel product director. “This needs to be planned and has to start now; we can’t just open our doors on October 1. In the West, we sell holidays six months to two years ahead. For November 2021, people are booking now.”

Khon said once the ministries have decided on conditions, they will lobby the government for them to be implemented. It is hoped Cambodia will reopen to international arrivals by the fourth quarter of this year.

Vannary San, owner of House Boutique hotel in Phnom Penh, welcomed the move. She said: “We are desperate for tourists and this seems a safe way to resume, but the quarantine has to be removed to encourage people to come and visit.”

A report from the Ministry of Tourism revealed international visitors fell by 80.2 per cent, causing more than US$3 billion loss in revenue.

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