Major travel uptrend likely to ‘start from mid-2022’

The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism said the number of international tourists to Cambodia will show a significant upward trend from mid-2022 as more tour packages are developed and sold.

The number of weekly flights increased by 20 percent to about 320 from November to the end of January, Chhun Makara, head of the ministry’s Travel Agency, Transportation and Tourist Guide Division, said on Feb. 15.

Although only a handful of international tourists have visited the kingdom since last month, tour packages organized by the ministry are expected to increase significantly from early June.

“Starting in June, we hope that the sales of travel packages will bring more tourists, especially from Europe and the United States, because according to our survey, many tourists will arrive in June, because there are now mandatory quarantine periods for vaccinations. The shortened arrival,” he said.

Arrivals will also increase as the flow of international tourists in and out of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos gradually returns to normal, he added.

Chhay Sivlin, chairman of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), told The Post that the tourism situation will improve starting in March as more airlines prepare to resume flights to Cambodia this month and CATA members receive more travel package bookings.

She said private businesses were creating attractive new travel packages that fit the current backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our association is organizing study tours in provinces with high tourism potential, and we’ll be looking at the kinds of products and services our customers might be interested in, and looking at new and different tourist destinations to market to tourists,” Sifflin said.

Huot Kheang, executive director of All Dream Cambodia Travel Co Ltd, said his company focuses on European tourists and bookings are still low, but he expects a pick-up in the near future.

European tourists would only head to the region in large numbers if European countries eased quarantine requirements and reopened more flights, he added.

“We will have some bookings in March, but probably still very few. We hope that the US and Europe will reopen as we have, and airlines will resume flights – we also expect long-haul flights to neighboring countries,” he said.

The ministry, in collaboration with local travel agencies, launched affordable domestic tour packages in early February 2021 to promote safe and attractive domestic tourism.

A total of 196,495 foreign tourists visited Cambodia last year, an 85 percent drop from the same period last year, according to ministry data.

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