Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Leaders reopen ASEAN tourism industry

Leaders reopen ASEAN tourism industry

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
ASEAN tourism leaders officially announce the reopening of the regional sector on Wednesday evening in Preah Sihanouk province. TOURISM MINISTRY

Leaders reopen ASEAN tourism industry

ASEAN tourism leaders have officially announced the reopening of the regional sector and introduced a number of key principles to be implemented, even as some member states grapple with outbreaks of the coronavirus Omicron variant.

The announcement was jointly made by ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi, the bloc’s tourism ministers and other leaders on the evening of January 19 in Preah Sihanouk province.

The Cambodian tourism ministry said in a statement on January 20 that the reopening is in line with the vision of ASEAN socio-economic recovery, based on a handful of principles, such as the commencement of intra-ASEAN tourism, the materialisation of an ASEAN travel portal and creation of a digital health pass.

Others include the recognition of the Covid-19 vaccine as the key to achieving community immunity, towards the revitalisation of the tourism industry chain, and encouraging life in a “new normal” in accordance with the health rules and standard operating procedures (SOP) of each member country.

Still others are the assurance that tourism services and businesses operate in accordance with ASEAN principles on hygiene and safety for tourism professionals and communities, and the enhancement of trust and confidence by encouraging all tour operators and similar service providers in the bloc, according to the ministry.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2022) on January 18, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon noted that Covid has had a serious impact on the socio-economic situation over the past two years, especially in 2020.

“ASEAN as a whole received only 25.96 million international tourists, down by 80 per cent, and tourism revenue fell by 75.8 per cent. This downward trend continued through 2021,” he said.

Prior to Covid, ASEAN tourism was growing at an annual rate of around six per cent by 2019, while providing about 30 million direct jobs and contributing about 10 per cent to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), he added.

He said intra-ASEAN travel accounted for more than 40 per cent of total international arrivals in the bloc.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the gradual resumption of the full range of socio-economic activities is under pressure, and must be in line with the “new normal” for all ASEAN countries, due to the narrowing of the tourism market, along with increased competition in terms of quality.

“Affordable products and services, prices, confidence in the safety of tourist destinations, measures to control the spread of Covid-19 and travel facilitation – these points will be key factors in tourists’ decisions when choosing destinations in the new context,” he said.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan welcomed the decision to reopen ASEAN tourism.

“I am very pleased with the ASEAN leaders’ announcement to reopen tourism, which is what the private sector wants and has been looking forward to.

“This ATF forum was a very important achievement for Cambodia, reflecting that the Kingdom is a safe country for the world’s tourists to travel to. If ASEAN can implement [these new principles], the flow of tourists from one country to another will increase, which will not only help restore tourism in the region, but also boost economic growth,” he said.

Hun Sen pointed out that first-dose and booster vaccination rates in Cambodia had risen to around 89 per cent and 25 per cent of the estimated 16 million population by January 10, which he said has allowed for a broad economic resumption to begin on November 1.

Additionally, the Kingdom managed to kick off an international tourism relaunch scheme on November 14 that opened the doors to fully-jabbed travellers, he said.

The government has also launched “The Strategic Framework and Programmes for Economic Recovery in the Context of Living with Covid-19 in a New Normal 2021-2023” and other supporting instruments on the “new normal”, domestic tourism and vaccines, he noted.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Kampot curfew imposed to curb ‘gang’ violence

    Kampot provincial police have announced measures to contain a recent spike in antisocial behaviour by “unruly’ youth. Officials say the province has been plagued by recent violence among so-called “gang members”, who often fight with weapons such as knives and machetes. Several social observers have

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Manet touches down in Beijing for high-level meetings

    Prime Minister Hun Manet arrived in Beijing on September 14 for his first official visit to China, where he is slated to attend the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and meet other leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping. Upon his arrival, Manet laid a wreath at the Monument