Kingdom Eyes Launch of “New Normal” Tourism Era by Year-end

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Following a three-phase restoration culminating in 2025, Cambodia is set to resume tourism operations amid a pandemic by the end of this year. 

The plan is outlined within the “Roadmap to Restore Cambodian Tourism During and After the Covid-19 Crisis” and the “Siem Reap Tourism Development 2021-2035.” 

Economy Minister Aun Pornmoniroth will submit the draft proposal to Prime Minister Hun Sen in early September. 

It divides the tourism comeback into three phases: Resilience and Restart in 2021 and 2021; Recovery in 2022 and 2023; and Relaunch in 2024 and 2025. 

Phase 1 has involved crisis management with public-private partnerships playing a key role. The 38-road project in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville’s 34-road project are also a part of this. 

Meanwhile, Phase 2 is geared towards supporting the development of new tourism products, quality upgrades, and promotion of creative technologies and startups in Cambodia. 

Finally, Phase 3 will have wider focus of ensuring sustainability and responsibility within the tourism sector, ensuring the country not only surpasses the covid-19 pandemic but also becomes more prepared for future crises. 

Tourism Minister Thong Khon emphasized this step-by-step approach as “maintaining a balance between socio-economic activities and ensuring safety and public health.” 

He added that this is an opportunity to reform and improve Cambodia’s tourism sector as a safer and more sustainable tourism destination. 

Confident in the country’s mitigation of covid-19, Luu Meng of the Government Private Sector Tourism Working Group B shared that there may be no more outbreaks in September or October, marking an opportune time to restart tourism. 

One aspect of the plan is to induce domestic tourists first, and then gradually open to international tourists. 

Arnaud Darc, president of the Cambodia Restaurant Association, said he recommended providing a shortened path of travel for vaccinated tourists. This would allow them to carry out business or tourism activities without too much delay from quarantine. 

“We have to take precautions, but we need to live with covid-19 now so people can socially reconnect through new safety measures,” he added.  

While the Kingdom suffered a harsh blow of surges from February of this year, recent developments now spell a more positive outlook. 

Early this month, Mekong Strategic Partnership reported that Cambodia is now a global leader in vaccination efforts. 

Strict lockdowns, travel restrictions, and efficient monitoring systems are other strategies that were reinforced to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Even beyond tourism, local business models underwent adjustments as the country endured economic impacts of the health crisis. 

Darc reiterated his confidence that the Khmer government is doings its best to find middle ground between public safety and economic stability, saying, “I expect to hear some good news by September if we still see progress in the vaccination rate and lower infection rate.” 

Just days before the February surge of covid-19 cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) had hailed Cambodia as one of the safest tourist destinations mid-pandemic. 

It’s clear that the Kingdom seeks to keep that title despite the initial road bumps. 

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