Foreign Arrivals Drop by 60 Percent due to COVID-19 Fears

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Phnom Penh, February 24, 2020 –Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen said here this morning that the fears of COVID-19 have been affecting tourism in the region as well as in Cambodia.

Speaking at a press conference at the Peace Palace Samdech Techo Hun Sen said in February 2020, foreign arrivals to Cambodia saw a decline by more than 60 percent, especially the Chinese tourists whose number dropped by 90 percent.

Tourism businesses in Siem Reap province have seriously suffered from COVID-19 fears compared to other main tourist destinations in the country, he added.

Cambodia has so far recorded no new case of COVID-19, after an infected Chinese man recovered and returned to his homeland. Besides China, the disease has been spread to about 30 nations over the world, and the Republic of Korea ranks second in terms of infected cases.

Since the COVID-19’s outbreak in December 2019, preliminary research estimated that two key areas in Cambodia are the most affected – tourism and garment.

In this context, the Royal Government has maintained its close monitoring on the affected enterprises and companies, and decided to introduce the first emergency intervention to control the impacts on the sector in some areas for the purpose of ensuring economic and social stability.

1) Assisting the most affected companies so that they can stay in business during this difficult time; (2) – assist the workers, in case of loss or suspension, to stabilise their lives and improve their skills and productivity for the future; and (3) supporting growth, especially for the SMEs, as they are the backbone of the national economy, he said.

At the same time, he added, the measures that have been put in place will not only reduce the impacts, but also enhance the competitiveness of those sectors and the economy as a whole, when the epidemic has passed.

According to the Premier, all registered hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap province will be exempt from the monthly tax from February to May, and all of them will not subject to audit for the whole year 2020.

Besides, the Royal Government encouraged the reduction of trips and missions abroad and the organisation of different events (meetings, workshops, short trainings), especially in Siem Reap.

Promotion of travel cooperation with neighbouring countries, increase the days for Angkor visit (but not increase the entrance fees), provision of trainings for the workers who lost their jobs during this period are among the measures.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen said some of the textile and garment factories in Cambodia have also suffered from the impacts caused by COVID-19 due to the lack of raw materials from China.

By Khan Sophirom