Chinese Arrivals Remain Constant Despite Loosening of Restrictions

Despite China reopening its borders, arrivals from the nation in Cambodia remain constant, with tourism industry players saying it will take about two months to see any change
Tourists leave the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, December 15, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Tourists leave the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, December 15, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

As China reopened its borders after an almost three-year hiatus, the number of Chinese tourists landing in the nation remains constant.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of IMCT (International Management Cooperation Team) Co Ltd and the Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter (PATACC), said that nothing has changed on the first day of welcoming Chinese tourists. However, China's reopening is good news for every country, not just Cambodia, he added.

“Nothing changed right away,” he said. “I believe it will take around two or three months for the airlines and the public to prepare. Domestic airlines, in particular, must seek authorization for flights.”

“It doesn't imply it opens on January 8 and they arrive on January 9. So, at this moment, it requires time that we need to understand.”

He said that Cambodia has not become a tourism hub yet, so it needs time to reconnect. Currently, there are many Chinese domestic airlines trying to increase flights from China to Phnom Penh, he added.

“So, in a few months, Chinese visitors will return to Siem Reap. However, this will occur in the future, it has not yet happened,” he said. “I believe it will provide results in two or three months, but it is good news as it gives Cambodia and the rest of the globe hope.”

He said that it is currently difficult to estimate throughout the crisis.

“I don’t have high expectations due to Covid-19, the political climate, and inflation,” he said. “So, we should not have great expectations.”

Similarly, Chhay Sivlin, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said that on the first day of welcoming Chinese tourists, the number of Chinese tourists who visit Cambodia remained constant.

As of the abrupt reopening and the approaching Chinese New Year, Chinese people must prepare for their celebrations, she added.

“I believe that many Chinese people will visit Cambodia following Chinese New Year,” she said. “However, I believe that the rise in Chinese people will be minimal since transportation takes time to prepare [from China to Cambodia].”

She added that the cost of an airline ticket is beginning to exceed $1,000.

“This will be a challenge for boosting the number of Chinese tourists to Cambodia,” she said. “It takes two or three months to see an increase in Chinese tourists.”

Din Somethearith, president of Cambodia Hotel Association, told Kiripost it may take some time before Chinese tourists start to arrive in the country.

“This may take a little time,” he said. “I think when it’s near the Chinese New Year, they will come.”

According to a Ministry of Tourism report, Cambodia welcomed 1,914 055 tourists in the first month of 2022, an increase of 1071.6 percent over the same time year in 2021.

There are 90,648 Chinese tourists among them, a 113,8 percent rise over the same period in 2021, when there were just 42 395 Chinese tourists.

Cambodia is expected to attract around seven million international tourists by 2025, according to the roadmap for the recovery and promotion of tourism in Cambodia during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, Thailand made a snap decision to reintroduce on Monday mandatory requirements of proof of vaccination, or PCR tests for unvaccinated visitors, before landing in the country. It had scrapped the requirements in October.