Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

China a priority in travel bubble talks

Guiding Chinese tourists at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap province, in 2019. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Government and tourism experts are in discussions about a travel bubble measure to attract tourists to Cambodia during the COVID-19 pandemic, with China a priority.

Thoun Sinan, president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, who joined the internal discussion yesterday, said the government and private sector had differing views.

“We understand that China is the potential market, a country with purchasing power, but Thailand and Vietnam will also help the tourism sector in the region as well, so we want the government to open the borders with neighbouring countries,” he said.

However, he added the process is still in its infancy and there need to be talks government-to-government.

The possible implementing of so-called close-loop charter planes between Cambodia and China was raised by the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) yesterday.

COVID-19 has not affected Cambodia as much as other countries while it is expected the China economy will do well despite COVID-19.

The discussed measures include designing an attractive package approved by the MOT, appointing appropriate hotels and restaurants and transportation such as airlines and sending the list of travellers to all relevant parties.

They also require travellers and relevant parties to strictly follow the sanitation and protection measures as instructed by the Ministry of Health and arrange tour guides and insurance in Cambodia for all travellers.

The measures would keep in place the deposit of $2,000 for some expenses in case any travellers are tested positive for COVID-19.

The MOT yesterday also held a consultative workshop on a special tourism draft policy with the private sector to gather additional opinions on restoring the sector  within the current overall socio-economic framework.

Tith Chantha, the ministry’s secretary of state, said the policy will also promote Cambodia as a destination for safe tourism, warm hospitality and added value, as well as one of high socio-economic benefits.

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