The launch of Cambodia’s alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotel scheme is a welcome move following a raft of complaints over varying standards of quarantine options, said tour and hotel operators.
In April 2020, Cambodia introduced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. This was only available at registered hotels randomly allocated upon landing at Phnom Penh International Airport, with standards vastly varying.
Nick Ray, Hanuman Travel product director, said: “For more than a year, it was a lottery and a lot of people don’t like to gamble. It really was a lucky dip, where for some people it went well, and for others, really badly.”
In July, the government introduced an ASQ hotel scheme, with four properties registered to date: Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence, and Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh.
Under the scheme, travellers on a business visa and Cambodians can choose where they stay for the 14-day quarantine period. Prices start from US$1,806 (Sokha) and include a choice of meals from the hotel menu and two PCR tests.
Ray said: “There were a lot of complaints previously about room size and quality, but what was really picked up on and shared across social media was the food standards. With the ASQ scheme, you have guaranteed quality.”
The introduction of the scheme has also proved a welcome boost for hotels that have been left virtually empty since the start of the pandemic.
Garth Simmons, CEO, Accor Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, said Raffles and Sofitel have seen a “positive trend” since the hotels signed up to the scheme in August. He noted it is mainly dignitaries and high-level business executives who check in.
Added Simmons: “We are optimistic that business will improve in Q4 and we would expect loosened arrival restrictions early next year with the reopening of the country.”
Marriott also noted a large number of quarantine bookings from existing and new clients.
While the scheme has been a welcome addition, Sinan Thourn, chairman of B2B Cambodia and PATA Cambodia, said there needs to be more choice added to the luxury hotels currently on the scheme.
He remarked: “You can’t limit the choice. The government should open more options, such as three- and four-star properties, and get the private sector involved, especially DMCs and travel companies, who are qualified to provide these services and recommendations.”