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Cambodia’s travel agents push for domestic flights to resume quickly to secure tourism income

Pang Socheneath

Cambodia’s travel agents chief says the tourism sector needs to return domestic flights for the upcoming year-end holiday season to ensure some revenue for the year.

Chhay SivLin, the President of Travel Agent in Cambodia told Cambodia Investment Review that “The more we wait, the more we lose income due to the competition from our neighboring countries reopening their countries during the same time and have more diverse transportations,” Chhay SivLin said.

With Cambodia’s rapid vaccination program, Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared to reopen the country officially in all sectors from November 1 onwards.

After the reopening of the country, the covid-19 cases remained relatively low which is a positive sign for tourism’s both private and public sector to restore the economy.

Chhay SivLin expects that with the current Covid-19 situation, more tourists will be interested to travel to Cambodia.

However, a barrier for the tourists in choosing Cambodia as their travel destination can be the limited number of regular domestic flights besides the few charter flights available in the country.

“There is no domestic airlines to declare their operation in transporting passengers from Phnom Penh international airport which is an obstacle for the tourist’s tour and attractions.” Chhay SivLin said as of November 10th.

Popular travel destination in Cambodia includes Preah Sihanoukville City and Dara Sakor tourist resort of Koh Kong province, which are the locations under Sandbox program, take at least around 4 to 5 hours to travel by car.

“Some tourists don’t want to travel around four to five hours more as they have already spent many hours in their previous flights,” Chhay SivLin said.

The Ministry of Health needs to cooperate with Cambodia’s travel agents

In addition, Chhay Sivlin requested the government to encourage and push the domestic airline companies to resume the operation as they might have faced substantial economic loss during the pandemic.

“They [airline companies] seem to wait for a noticeable amount of passengers before they can restart their operation, but for the travel agents, we have to wait for the available connecting flights so that we can create sales,” Chhay SivLin said.

 “We should no longer wait so that the travel agents can create the sales on time amid the upcoming year-end holiday season,” Chhay SivLin added.

To restore and improve the tourism sector in Cambodia, it is required for cooperation from related parties in which the Ministry of Health plays a major part.

“The Ministry of Health of Cambodia should provide the relaxed terms of conditions in form registration and document filling to bring more ease to the tourists,” Chhay SivLin said.

Under the country’s recent open for vaccinated tourists, there are travel sites under sandbox programs including Preah Sihanouk City, Koh Rong City of Preah Sihanouk Province, and Dara Sakor tourist resort in Koh Kong Province, which will reopen starting 30 November this year.

In addition, Angkor, SiemReap is also planning to reopen during January 2022.

On November 14th, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced no quarantine is required for fully vaccinated travelers who enter Cambodia from November 15th onwards.

Airline passengers arriving in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap must go through a PCR test. After the tests, locals can stay at home while tourists, visitors, and businessmen can stay at a hotel to wait for the results.

When the travelers receive a negative result, they will be allowed to travel freely in Cambodia with no quarantine required.

According to a report by the Ministry of Tourism, there is an increased tourist flow that from 6th to 7th November, Cambodia received a total of 174,543 visitors including 169,532 national tourists and 5,011 domestic foreigners.

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