Cambodia’s tourism sector reeling


This past week, multiple media outlets reported on how Cambodia’s tourism sector was reeling due to the multiple travel and health restrictions caused by COVID-19.

The Star newspaper said that Cambodia received 1.15 million international visitors during the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. This is a decrease of 38.5% according to the latest report released by the Ministry of Tourism on Monday.

The top sources of foreign visitors came from China, Vietnam, Thailand, the United States and South Korea in Q1.

Air travel to/from Cambodia

Some international and regional airlines have slowly restarted flights to Cambodia’s international airports in May 2020 but under strict biosecurity guidelines.

Asian airlines such as Cambodia Angkor Air, China Air and Eva Air all reinstated flight routes into Phnom Penh International Airport as both Vietnam and Taiwan had opened their borders to foreign travel.

Other international major airlines such as Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Emirates are looking at scheduling flights to resume to Cambodia in June and July 2020 reports the Khmer Times.

Angkor Archaeological Park

Initial reports suggested that April ticket sales at Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park had declined by as much as 99.5% compared to 2019, bringing in only $29,368 USD. As few as 654 foreign visitors bought passes to the world heritage site in Siem Reap.

In total, from January to April this year, revenue went down nearly 60% year-on-year to approximately $18 million USD, with the total number of international holidaymakers standing at 384,317, reported a statement from Angkor Enterprise.

Foreign visitors can visit the site with a single-day entrance pass costing $37, three-day pass are $62, and $72 for seven-day passes, however, Cambodian’s can continue to visit the site free of charge.

The Ministry of Tourism had already announced in February this year that a single-day entrance pass can visit for up to two days and, three-day entrance passes can visit for up to five days, while a seven-day entrance pass, is valid for 10 days, to try and encourage more visitors.

ASEAN visa-exemption schemes

The Bangkok Post also reported this week that there won’t be any immediate discussions about visa exemptions or visa fee waivers for ASEAN countries.

Following a special meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers on Covid-19 “tourism ministers of the 10 member nations approved in principle the Joint Statement of ASEAN Tourism Ministers on Strengthening Cooperation to Revitalise Tourism” to try and boost tourism in the region.

However “members were skipping any discussion of visa policy allowing Asean citizens to travel freely between borders” to try and focus on kick-starting the decline in tourism first.

Chinese visitors to Cambodia to increase?

The Cambodian newspaper, the Khmer Times, also suggested the numbers of Chinese nationals visiting Cambodia would increase after the COVID-19 fears had been allayed.

The Khmer Times reported that the Ministry of Tourism is ‘preparing to receive many visitors from the country soon’. Tourism Minister Thong Khon said, “When the Chinese government allows its people to go out or resume their flights, we think there will be a big flow of Chinese tourists to Cambodia.”

Tith Chantha, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, said the number of foreign visitors to Cambodia will increase two or three-fold according to the media outlet.

Tourism remains one of Cambodia’s key industries. Tourism statistics show that Cambodia has seen an increase in tourism every year from 2013-2019. Data shows the total number of tourists to the Kingdom as:

  • 2016 (5,011,712)
  • 2017 (5,602,157)
  • 2018 (6,201,077)
  • 2019 (6.7 million* estimated)


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