Cambodia is expecting more international tourists from neighboring countries after Thailand announced on June 1 that it would lift all Covid-19 restrictions, including quarantine on arrival, and reopen its land borders.
Top Sopheak, secretary of state and spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, told The Post on June 6 that tourism in Cambodia is recovering, especially domestic tourism, while international tourism will really pick up once Cambodia’s neighbors fully reopen.
Sopheak said the reopening of Thailand and Vietnam will be a positive force for Cambodia’s tourism recovery as it will boost international tourism flows, especially reciprocal tourism between the two countries.
“As we know, Thailand has a large airport, multiple airlines and flights. So when Thailand reopens, Cambodia will also benefit from the influx of tourists there,” he said.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodia Chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said in an interview that Thailand has been open for a while, but foreign tourists need to purchase insurance.
However, Sinan said the removal of the new entry rules will benefit Cambodia, especially the overflow of international tourists from Thailand.
“While Thai tourists visit Cambodia, Cambodians also travel to Thailand to shop. So we see that the two countries can complement each other,” he added.
Ho Vandy, a consultant for the Association of Cambodian Travel Agents, said that once Bangkok opens all land borders, there will be more tourists pouring into Cambodia through the Thai border.
“For a long time, the next destination of foreign tourists visiting Thailand is usually Cambodia. Travel from Thailand to Cambodia is by air and land,” he said, adding that Poipet town, Koh Kong province and Pailin province account for the majority of the population. Most arrived by land.
“Before Covid-19, tourists visiting Cambodia through land borders accounted for 10% to 20% of the total,” Vandy noted.
In 2021, tourist arrivals from Thailand to Cambodia totaled 81,844, the highest among 10 countries, followed by China (45,775) and Vietnam (22,120), the Ministry of Tourism said.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia fell by 84.96% from 1,306,143 in 2020 to only 196,495 in 2021, which was almost 97.03% lower than the historical peak of 6,610,592 in 2019.
Cambodia’s international tourism revenue last year was only US$184 million, a plunge of 82% from US$1.023 billion in 2020. Last year’s figure was down more than 96% from the all-time peak of $4.919 billion in 2019, which had risen by 12.4% from 2018.
This compares to domestic tourism receipts of $230 million last year, a 42.2% drop from 2020’s $400 million.
In 2021, the number of outbound tourists from Cambodia will drop by 90.6% year-on-year to 30,517, and the number of outbound international tourists will drop by 86.6% to 183,608.
Tourism will account for 1.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, down from 3 percent in 2020 and 12.1 percent in 2019.