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Cambodia looks to bright future as it prepares to unlock

Cambodia's Koh Kong province will be one of the first to reopen.

Cambodia has announced a phased reopening for vaccinated travellers from the end of November.

According to Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry, the reopening programme will begin on November 30 and will mean fully vaccinated international arrivals can skip quarantine if they are staying at least five days in a designated area.

Arrival requirements will mean visitors having proof of full vaccination and taking a rapid results test after landing.

Pre-pandemic, the country welcomed around six million visitors a year which accounted for almost US$5 billion in revenue, with most holidaymakers heading to the temples of Angkor and seaside destinations. However, in 2020 Cambodia closed its international borders and revenue plunged to just US$1 billion. Currently, tourist visas are on hold and only residents, certain business people and foreigners who work and live in Cambodia are allowed to enter the Kingdom.

The first two designated areas to be included in the reopening programme are the coastal provinces of Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, in the Gulf of Thailand.

Siem Reap, home to the world-famous Angkor temples, will be added in January.

These areas will serve as a litmus test for adding further destinations and it’s anticipated that the entire country will open up once Covid-19 is considered to be under control.

This week, Cambodia recorded the lowest number of daily cases since April. Its total number of infections since the pandemic was declared is 118,000 with around 400 deaths.

Having weathered the pandemic relatively well, Cambodia has now instigated a successful vaccine roll-out.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal is offering an 'elegant' quarantine alternative.

“Cambodia has gone through phases of restrictions and lockdowns the same as any other country in the world,” said Sophie Altimirano, sales and marketing director at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh. “Currently there’s a restriction on gatherings, an alcohol ban and certain areas of hospitality such as cinemas, karaoke lounges and bars are on pause.”

In a case of history perhaps repeating itself, Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh reopened its northern wing earlier this year as an Alternative State Quarantine earlier this year, providing an elegant alternative for inbound travellers to spend their compulsory 14-day quarantine. In the 1970s the luxury ‘grande dame’ hotel was turned temporarily into a Red Cross facility.

Newly welcomed international guests post-reopening can expect a refreshed hotel as all rooms and suites underwent a refurbishment programme in 2019 as part of a one-year restoration project of the hotel which opened in 1929.

According to Altimirano, Cambodia has been highly praised for its high vaccination rates “which were driven strongly by the government.”

Indeed, Phnom Penh is on track to becoming the most vaccinated city in Southeast Asia, with 60% of the whole population and 95% of residents of the capital city fully vaccinated. The country was aiming to hit herd immunity, with 75% of the 16.5 million population vaccinated by the autumn. Inoculation of children over 12 began in August.

“Cambodia’s success in controlling the pandemic last year is due to a combination of factors,” said Herman Kemp, general manager of the newly opened Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh. “Cambodia has a very young population and the country is not as urbanised as most surrounding countries.”

The recently opened Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh.

These advantages were combined with a strict containment policy with restrictions on those entering the country and monitoring of people’s movements.

“And with a successful vaccination rollout, the country is now on the brink of reopening and with an outlook of strong economic and social improvement in the very near future,” said Kemp.

Kemp and his team are looking to entice families back with complimentary duffel bags containing soft toys and colouring activities for young guests and pint-sized in-room amenities including kids’ bathrobes and toiletries.

Meanwhile, until the country has reopened, returning residents staying as part of the ASQ programme at Raffles Hotel Le Royal can expect private airport transfers, full-board room service dining, 24-hour medical services and PCR tests.

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