The Cambodian government is considering a proposal to adjust the strict financial and quarantine requirements for some groups of visitors as local businesses grow concerned about the impact of the rules on the economy.
Recently, the government announced new measures for all foreigners visiting Cambodia. These included a USD$3,000 deposit on arrival, proof of medical insurance for at least USD$50,000, and a health certificate declaring the visitor is free of covid-19.
The restrictions have come under fierce criticism, both in Cambodia and internationally, as visitors are charged for several mandatory services on arrival, taken directly out of their deposit.
President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, Chhay Sivlin, has expressed her concern regarding the entry requirements and has pleaded with the government to ease the travel restrictions. She said:
“I mean any business such as a pub, massage parlor, and spa should resume business. We call on the government to ease the restrictions but take strict safety measures instead introduced by the Ministry of Tourism because we cannot wait to see until covid-19 ends or we will die before covid-19 does.”
Local businesses and tourist attractions in Cambodia are severely suffering the effects of lockdowns in the nation. Regions such as Siem Reap, where companies rely only on tourism, have profoundly felt the financial impact. Ms. Sivlin continued:
“Some of them have started to farm and borrow money from friends for daily survival because they expected there would be a solution, but so far, nothing has changed. Everyone is now just trying to make ends meet. Some of them have started selling their assets to pay off debts. As I know, some tour guides are putting on sale their homes to pay loans and for daily living.”
More than 110 hotels and guesthouses have closed permanently, while more than 270 have temporarily shut their doors in Siem Reap. Referencing the current entry requirements for foreigners into Cambodia, Ms. Sivlin said that businesses would not survive if they remain in place:
“I just had a meeting with members to encourage them to work with ASEAN and local visitors to secure business, but I am not sure how long we can survive, and we are very worried when skilled hospitality staff change careers. The sector will lack human resources.”
The Cambodian government is considering reducing the entry requirements for some foreigners, including technical experts, investors, and consultants.
A spokesperson for Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), Sin Chansereyvutha, said that the government is reviewing the current health regulations. He suggested the government could reduce the cash deposit on arrival from USD$3,000 to USD$2,000.
Potentially, short-term business people and investors could visit Cambodia without undergoing quarantine measures also. Mr. Chansereyvutha said:
“The government does not want to keep them in quarantine for 14 days once they arrive in Cambodia. Once they (investors) arrive at the airport, we will test them to figure out whether they have covid-19 and then allow them to go, but the government will have IT [information technology] system or mobile phone application to track them. The investors come to Cambodia for only two or three days, so we want to facilitate them.”
Despite potential relaxation of entry requirements for investors, the Cambodian government has said that tourist visas remain off-limits for now.
However, as local businesses continue to suffer the consequences of no tourist arrivals, the Cambodian government is sure to review their stance sooner rather than later. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, Or Vandine, hinted at this, saying:
“When the measures have been implemented, and prevention is better, the government will adjust or review them.”
For now, Cambodia’s hefty deposit fees are keeping foreigners away from the country.
Source: Khmer Times