Nearly 9,000 domestic trips were made to tourist destinations in the first week after the government lifted an inter-provincial travel ban and reopened tourist-resorts, according to Minister of Tourism on May 3.
The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially during Khmer New Year holiday.
Khon said that while some tourist destinations have yet to reopen, a modest 8,960 domestic trips were made across the Kingdom from April 26 to May 2, with Cambodians accounting for 8,754 and foreigners 206.
The number of Cambodians travelling across the Kingdom pales in comparison to before the February 20 community outbreak, he said, adding that authorities have not yet allowed all tourist destinations in Phnom Penh and Kandal province to reopen.
"In other provinces, provincial administrations are very cautious in reopening resorts and tourist destinations. The ministry will not allow them to reopen if they don’t follow the health guidelines, and some tourism sites place restrictions on travel over safety concerns,” he said.
Khon added that the ministry will continue to urge the Phnom Penh municipal and provincial tourism departments to further strengthen and increase cooperation with provincial administrations and business owners to increase safety education, and guidance for visitors and tourism service providers to ensure safety and public health.
"Most of the tourists are simply taking very brief sightseeing trips to hang out with family and most of them are locals," he said.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said that although domestic tourism is limited now, the prompt reopening of resorts would help owners prepare in advance for a wider reopening of the tourism sector.
"During the initial opening, they [resorts] won’t receive many visitors, but at least they’ll earn revenue and revive sales. I think that the reopening will help businesses at the grassroots level, and is a starting point for tourism," said Sivlin.
According to ministry spokesman Top Sopheak, there were a total of 557 potential resorts and tourism destinations in Cambodia, including the newly established resorts in the Covid-19 era.
And according to the ministry, domestic tourism spending was about $400 million in 2020. Some 1.31 million international tourists visited Cambodia, down by 80.2 per cent from 6.61 million in 2019.
Domestic travellers made about 7.23 million trips to tourist-resorts in the Kingdom last year, down by nearly 36.1 per cent from 11.3 million in 2019, ministry figures show.