Cambodia Ready to Welcome Chinese Tourists

Cambodia has confirmed it will not screen Chinese visitors arriving in the country as it prepares to welcome visitors from the nation ahead of China dropping its travel restrictions this week
Tourists visit Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
Tourists visit Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

The Ministry of Tourism said Cambodia is ready to welcome tourists from China following the Prime Minister’s speech that the Kingdom will not screen Chinese tourists upon arrival.

Key public and private players in the tourism sector are ready to welcome Chinese investors and tourists as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased and China’s borders are reopening for its citizens to travel abroad.

“We call on all stakeholders to continue to promote the development of tourism, culture, sports and tourism promotion activities in Cambodia and China, as well as to provide better tourism services and warm hospitality to Chinese tourists,” the Ministry said in its release this Friday.

Chhay Sivlin, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said as long as Cambodia is able to welcome Chinese tourists unconditionally, the Kingdom will allow other countries to visit without restriction as well.

“There should be fair treatment to other countries equally, because other countries are still experiencing an outbreak of Covid-19, more or less.” The CATA president added, “We should not worry much about this. The important thing is keep practicing and follow the SOP [Standard Operating Procedures] of the Ministry of Tourism’s safety rules. We can accept more tourists without any more conditions.”

She noted that Cambodia has to attract as many tourists as possible so the country can recover from economic setbacks, as the pandemic has badly impacted the tourism sector.

Meanwhile, the tourism ministry will launch a campaign called "Cambodia-China Good Friend" to welcome tourists from China in 2023. The Ministry added the huge potential of Chinese investors and tourists to Cambodia will drive the growth of the tourism sector.

Hong Vannak, economic researcher at Royal Academy of Cambodia (ERRAC), told Kiripost that even though there is some concern, welcoming Chinese tourists to Cambodia freely without Covid-19 testing requirements is key as they are important to the country’s economy.

“The concern and unconcern is a parallel point since the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia now is different from the Covid situation in 2020. Sometimes, if we worry too much, it will affect the economy of one country. Cambodian citizens also have to be more careful wherever they go and take good care of their health in order to avoid Covid-19,” said the ERRAC researcher.

He noted that the Covid-19 restriction measurement can cause discrimination and economic constraints.

“It doesn’t mean Cambodia cannot strengthen the Covid-19 measures for foreign tourists, despite that we have taken a step back and viewed it for both local and global context. With the reopening of the country for one year, we can observe that Cambodia is still able to control Covid-19, which is not at a critical level yet.”

This year also marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of Cambodia-China diplomatic relations and the year of Visit Cambodia 2023 under the slogan “Every Day Is A Wonder”.

With the return of Chinese tourists, Cambodia is expected to receive about seven million international visitors by 2025, as planned in the roadmap to restore and promote Cambodia's tourism in and after the Covid-19 crisis.

To attract tourists from China, following the strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Cambodia has focused on promoting action plans to attract Chinese tourists, such as the China-Ready White Paper Strategy for the Cambodian tourism industry.

These include the establishment of a China-Ready Center, Chinese language and culture training for officials and staff, strengthening Chinese-language tourism guides, attracting Chinese investors, supporting infrastructure and improving the quality of tourism services.

Cambodia is ready to receive Chinese tourists on seven services, including hotels and accommodation, tourism, restaurants, tour operators and travel agents, tour operators, resorts, tour operators and supermarkets and souvenir shops.

Five criteria, such as front-line staff knowing Chinese and understand China-Ready, online advertising in Chinese, Chinese product documents and labels, Chinese translation, customer service, Chinese market response and service quality standards.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about 155 million Chinese tourists went abroad, accounting for 10 percent of world tourism (1.5 billion), bringing in about $ 258 billion in tourism spending, equivalent to one-fifth of the total expenditure of world tourism ($1.3 trillion).

Meanwhile, more than 2.3 million Chinese tourists came to Cambodia in 2019, accounting for 35.7 percent of international tourists (6.6 million), equivalent to about $1.8 billion in total tourism revenue of about Cambodia’s $5billion. In 2019, Cambodia also received Chinese investors in tourism-related sectors, accounting for more than 50 percent of Cambodia's total foreign investment (FDI).

The ASEAN region also received 32.2 million Chinese tourists, accounting for 22.5 percent of international tourists to ASEAN, of which 11 million, Vietnam 5.8 million, Singapore 3.4 million and Malaysia received 3.1 million people.

During the epidemic, from 2020 to 2022, the state of the Chinese tourism market changed rapidly and declined sharply to all tourist destinations in the world due to the introduction of Chinese travel barriers.

The Cambodian government has been steadily implementing travel facilitation, removing health barriers since 2022, when Cambodia announced the reopening of the country.

Cambodia is one of the most friendly-tourist destinations as the country has been evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s one of the leading nations in vaccinating its citizens, both at the local level and the most boosting doses to quickly reopen the country, opening the first socio-economic activity in the region.