Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Hope abounds for a ‘new normal’ in tourism to start in late 2021

A tourist at Angkor Wat, pre-COVID. Pixabay

After a long wait of two years, the Tourism Ministry is set to reopen the tourism sector under the new normalcy following the Covid-19 pandemic with three important phases outlined from now until 2025.

The three phases as part of the draft plan are Resilience and Restart in 2020 and 2021; Secondly, Recovery in 2022 and 2023 and thirdly Relaunch in 2024 and 2025.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon who chaired the forum on  “Government and Private Sector Workgroup to Recover and Promote the Tourism Industry Post-Covid-19” with relevant stakeholders on Friday, including those from the private sector said teamwork is crucial for the restart of the tourism sector.

“The opening of safe tourism will be done step by step, based on the principle of maintaining a balance between socio-economic activities and ensuring safety and public health for citizens. We have the opportunity to reform Cambodia’s tourism sector to become a quality, safe and sustainable tourism destination,” said Khon.

Luu Meng, co-chairman of the Goverment Private Sector Tourism Working Group B Tourism in Cambodia, told Khmer Times yesterday: “We have to be prepared now because maybe in September or October there will be no more outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Then we will restart tourism again. The key is to receive domestic tourists first, then we can receive international tourists later.”

Cambodia Restaurant Association president Arnaud Darc told Khmer Times yesterday: “The longer we are going to wait, the harder it will be for the tourism sector, particularly for restaurants, to sustain.”

“As long as we have curfew or measures that restrict the movement of people, business will be very hard. We have to take precautions, but we need to live with Covid-19 now so people can socially reconnect through new safety measures,” Darc said.

“Each step forward has to be based on indicators, such as vaccination rate, the prevalence of infection rate, and hospitalisation rate,” said Darc, adding that other countries have had multiple waves of the virus, especially among unvaccinated such as elderly and youth. “We don’t want to see that in Cambodia.”

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