Cambodia anticipates an increase in international tourists from neighboring nations following Thailand’s June 1 announcement to lift all Covid-19 restrictions, including post-arrival quarantine, and reopen land borders.
Top Sopheak, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, told The Post on June 6 that Cambodia’s tourism sector is recovering, particularly domestic tourism, and that international tourism will resume in earnest once Cambodia’s neighbors reopen fully.
Sopheak opined that Thailand and Vietnam’s reopening would be beneficial to Cambodia’s tourism recovery because it would facilitate international tourism movement, particularly reciprocal tourism between the nations.
“As is common knowledge, Thailand has a large airport, numerous airlines, and numerous flights. Therefore, when Thailand reopens, Cambodia will also benefit from the influx of tourists,” he explained.
When contacted, Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodia chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), stated that Thailand has been open for some time, but that foreign tourists are required to purchase insurance.
Sinan stated that the new easing of entry restrictions is expected to benefit Cambodia, particularly through the spillover of international tourists from Thailand.
“While Thai tourists travel to Cambodia, Cambodians also shop in Thailand. Thus, it is clear that both nations can complement one another,” he continued.
Ho Vandy, a representative of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, stated that once Bangkok opens all land borders, the influx of tourists entering Cambodia through the Thai border will increase.
“Cambodia has traditionally been the next destination for foreign tourists who visit Thailand. Thailand and Cambodia are connected by air and land, with Poipet, Koh Kong, and Pailin provinces accounting for the majority of overland arrivals.
Before Covid-19, 10 to 20 percent of tourists visiting Cambodia crossed land borders, according to Vandy.
According to the tourism ministry, 81,844 tourists traveled from Thailand to Cambodia in 2021, the highest number among 10 countries, followed by China (45,775) and Vietnam (22,120).
The number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia decreased by 84.96 percent from 1,306,143 in 2020 to 196,495 in 2021, representing a 97.03 percent decline from 2019’s all-time high of 6,610,592 visitors.
Last year, international tourism revenues for Cambodia totaled just $184 million, an 82 percent decline from the $1.02 billion expected in 2020. The amount decreased by more than 96% from the all-time high of $4.919 billion in 2019, which had increased by 12.4% over 2018.
In contrast, domestic tourism receipts decreased 42.2% from $400 million in 2020 to $230 million in 2017.
In 2021, the number of Cambodians leaving the country decreased by 90.6% year-over-year to 30,517, while international tourist departures decreased by 86.6% to 183,608.
In 2021, the tourism and travel industry contributed 1.8% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), down from 3.0% and 12.1% in 2020 and 2019, respectively.