Tourism leaders in Cambodia are growing increasingly concerned that unless plans for the reopening of Cambodia to foreign tourists are published soon, another high season will be written off.
Main picture Koh Rong, Cambodia credit Ben Stern on Unsplash
High season for most of Cambodia is December to March when much of the countries tourism income is generated.
Unlike in neighbouring Thailand, authorities in Cambodia have yet to announce any plans for reopening the country, despite a highly successful vaccination programme.
Senior figures were reported to have met to discuss reopening plans in May but nothing has yet been announced.
Conditions for areas wanting to reopen in Thailand include 100% of hospitality / tourism workers and 70% of the local population being vaccinated. Much of the country is far behind these vaccination rates and so far only Phuket and parts of Surat Thani (including Samui), Krabi and Phang Nga (Khao Lak) are welcoming foreign tourists.
More than 75% of the population in Cambodia however are already inoculated with estimates predicting that will be at least 80% by the end of the month. The country has even started to deliver booster vaccinations to frontline workers and first shots to children over 12 years of age.
Tourism leaders are urging for plans to be confirmed to give hotels and hospitality businesses time to prepare for tourists to return and for local and international tour operators and airlines to plan, promote and sell to customers.
Failure to reopen tourism destinations in Cambodia could have a devastating effect as many have reported that they will not survive another high season with visitors.
Around 6.6 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia in 2019, around 13% of Cambodian GDP. This fell by 80% to just 1.3 million last year as borders closed and restrictions were put in place.
Criticisms of the Thailand reopening process have included last minute approval of reopening plans that has meant that bookings have been very low in some cases. Excessive administration procedures and differing opening conditions in Phuket and Surat Thani have also been raised as barriers to travel.
Source: TTG Asia
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