Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

Biding time . . . Angkor Wat lies in wait for tourists who are expected in the fourth quarter of this year.
Photo: Hong Menea

The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game

A sign on a glass counter in Phnom Penh’s latest Korean cafe and bakery chain Paris Baguette in the plush district of Boeung Keng Kang I or BKK 1, as it is locally known, tells customers that “only fully vaccinated customers can dine-in”.

It caught a few by surprise as they were asked by the staff to produce their vaccination cards if they wanted to dine in after ordering their food while some left with their merchandise, assumedly for not possessing such documents.

“Thank goodness my friends and I already got both our doses. We have been planning to go to Paris Baguette for their cakes for some time now,” said a 26-year-old marketing executive, who declined to be named.

The high-ceilinged outlet known for their pastries was packed with young people and office workers. “I imagine they must have all received their vaccines,” she added, scanning the room.

Attempts to contact a top executive of the business proved futile.

It is not known how many business outlets have adopted the idea of “vaccine passports” in the capital but this might be a precursor for things to come in the near future.

Even in the West, the idea of vaccine passports at outlets is moot as it is seen as discriminatory against those who do not have Covid-19 vaccines for various reasons.

Although, it should be noted that several places in the US, according to USA Today, such as universities, are mulling it in a bid to boost vaccination among students.

Closer to home, Clais Chenda, president of Cambodia Hotel Association who was unaware of the sign at the bakery, however, thought that “discrimination is not a good tool to boost tourism”.

With millions of Covid-19 doses streaming into Cambodia, from China mostly, authorities are saying that herd immunity can be expected by June next year.

As of June 9, 2.3 million people had received both doses under the country’s Blossom strategy, its mass vaccination campaign aimed at achieving 80 per cent of the targeted 10 million people. Based on this latest figure, 27.7 per cent of the targeted population have been immunised.

However, 54,312 people have been rejected due to health conditions while there are people who are not keen on the vaccine for reasons known to them.

Read the full article at The Phnom Penh Post:

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