Today, the Ministry of Tourism will meet with the private sector to debate the future of package tours in post-Covid Cambodia, which is one of the components of the government's tentative plans to resurrect the tourism industry in the fourth quarter of this year.
Minister Thong Khon chaired a virtual closed-door meeting on Monday (May 24) to lay out important action objectives, including preparations for the gradual resumption of tourism in October-December, with a concentration on the Angkor area in Siem Reap province at first.
Another idea aims to restore travellers' confidence and trust by allowing international tourists from low-risk nations and territories who have been completely vaccinated against the new coronavirus to enter the Kingdom with little or no quarantine.
In order to ensure the industry's regional competitiveness, the plans would allow for package tours with "acceptable" price tags.
On today's meeting with the private sector, the ministry plans to publish a concept paper for further debate, and will seek comments and inter-institutional collaboration next week before submitting a government decision.
The president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), Chhay Sivlin, stated that private tourism enterprises are willing to collaborate with the government, through the ministry, to help revive the Covid-ravaged industry.
“We are willing to collaborate with the government to increase tourist trust. This is something we've been looking forward to for a long time. We need to reorganise our services to accommodate tourists,” she added, emphasising that Siem Reap's tourism industry is in desperate need of help.
Tourism service and product providers can no longer sustain business after more than a year of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, she said.
She urged company owners to have their employees on alert and ready to act if the ministry pushes forward with its plans.
“All businesses must be prepared ahead of time, as the initial reopening of tourism is critical in building confidence in tourists.
“At the same time, the public sector is making arrangements ahead of time to welcome tourists, such as cutting bureaucracy at international checkpoints,” Sivlin said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen formally approved a three-phased national tourism strategy and a 2021-2035 Siem Reap provincial tourism development master plan on April 1 in order to guide the sector's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a tourism ministry report, 1.31 million international tourists visited Cambodia in 2020, down from 6.61 million in 2019, and Cambodian travellers made around nine million trips to domestic destinations, down 20% year on year.
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