Nearly 20,000 domestic trips were made across the Kingdom in the first weekend after the government ended a lockdown in Phnom Penh and Kandal province's Takmao town at the onset of May 6, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said on May 10.
Tourism ministry figures show that Cambodians and visitors made 19,492 and 217 domestic trips respectively from May 7-9, totalling 19,709, which represents a 119.96 per cent increase from the 8,960 trips tallied between April 26 and May 2, with Cambodians accounting for 8,754 and visitors 206.
Khon said domestic tourism has begun a rapid post-lockdown recovery, but noted that sightseeing tours are currently limited to people residing in the Kingdom, as a measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Being just the first weekend after the blockade was removed, the number of trips made by Phnom Penh and Kandal residents last week understandably was considerably below normal, he stressed.
"The number of tourists at the moment is still small, but there has been an increase in [reopened] destinations, leading to the increase of 10,749 sightseeing trips, up 120 per cent from” April 26-May 2, he said, adding that most trips were intra-provincial family outings.
The resorts and destinations that have since reopened are wide in range and most make it easy to maintain social distancing, he claimed, listing Angkor Wat, coastal areas, community attractions, ecotourism destinations and adventure travel sites as examples.
Most resorts that are to be privately renovated and adapted to the Covid-19 environment have yet to reopen, he said, adding that authorities in some provinces and districts do not allow destinations to reopen if they are deemed to have an “unfavourable Covid-19 situation”.
"Some provincial unified command committees continue to be vigilant and pay close attention to the movement of people, with checkpoints set up along provincial borders to collect information and provide rapid tests for Covid-19 in suspicious cases,” Khon said.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on May 11 that natural resorts in particular had benefited from resurging domestic tourism after the lockdown and inter-provincial travel ban were lifted.
While most visitors were locals and numbers paled in comparison to pre-Covid days, their presence made a noteworthy contribution to the revitalisation of tourism, she said.
"The increase in the number of domestic tourists will offset a little bit the vast losses in the amount of international tourists felt by those in the tourism sector,” Sivlin said.
She called on the authorities and tourists to follow the Ministry of Health's guidelines to effectively prevent the spread of contagion at each resort.
A total of 7.23 million domestic trips were made across the Kingdom last year, down by nearly 36.1 per cent from 11.3 million in 2019. Domestic tourism generated about $400 million in revenue in 2020, according to the ministry.