Industry players have high hopes that a snap decision to scrap pre-travel PCR test and rapid test on arrival will lure more holidaymakers to Cambodia.
On March 17, Cambodia announced double vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to produce a negative PCR test 72 hours before landing or undergo a rapid test upon arrival. A vaccination certificate must be presented.
The visa-on-arrival scheme that has been suspended since March 2020 has also been revived.
Nick Ray, CamDMC consultant, said: “This is a game changer. It removes the jeopardy and risk from travel to Cambodia and ensures Cambodia continues to lead the way to a full reopening in South-east Asia.”
Steve Lidgey, general manager at Travel Asia a la Carte, added: “This is exactly what we need and lobbied for. Testing procedures were too costly, restrictive and complicated for many. The ease of arrival to Cambodia will be good news in the short-term, and hopefully see some last-minute bookings.”
Since Cambodia reopened her borders to international travellers in November, the country has noted a slow trickle of tourists entering. Lidgey said this month he has received several bookings for 14-day tours.
“This is excellent news for the struggling hospitality industry,” he said.
“We need to work hard to make sure Cambodia becomes a single destination and doesn’t revert to being a two- or three-night add-on,” he added.
However, Sinan Thourn, BTB Cambodia chairman, said flight connectivity remains a challenge.
“Cambodia has limited air connectivity and without the rest of (South-east Asia) opening their borders like Cambodia, it will be difficult. Cambodia alone can’t reach its goals without ASEAN solidarity,” said Sinan.
Lidgey noted Singapore Airlines’ frequent flights into Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have aided arrivals. “Other airlines are being far too tentative and not planning ahead. Singapore Airlines has helped bring Western tourists, Singaporeans and expats living in Singapore who needed a break,” he said.
However, to ensure Cambodia remains competitive as other regional destinations relax restrictions, Lidgey recommended scrapping tourist visa fees. “Most nationalities can enter Thailand without any charge, so it would be good for Cambodia to be proactive and challenge their bigger rivals.”