- July 7, 2020 7:18 AM
- April 7, 2022 2:10 PM
- January 7, 2023 6:30 PM
PHNOM PENH — The Ministry of Tourism has recently launched the pilot phase of its “Travel Pass” to prompt people in the country to explore Cambodia.
Those using the travel pass will receive discounts from tourism services that are partners of the Ministry of Tourism, said Kunthea Phirum, head of the Office of Domestic Tourism Promotion at the ministry.
The travel pass is meant, he said, “to facilitate travel for Cambodians and give them the opportunity to travel.” This pass could also be described as a mechanism to organize affordable tour packages in the country and help the tourism industry recover in 2022 and 2023 from the drastic drop of business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained.
Launched about two months ago, Phirum said, the pass is part of the ministry’s campaign "Visit our Country" in the spirit of "Tourism to Connect to the Territory.” In its first phase, the campaign has focused on tourism activities in two target destinations: Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces, he said on Sept.6.
The inaugural trip with the travel pass took place on Aug. 20 and 21 when the Ministry of Tourism’s Domestic Tourism and Public Awareness Department, in cooperation with Khmer Dive Group Travel and Tours, took 20 or so tourists to Koh Rong Island off the coast of Preah Sihanouk Province. The tourists used their travel pass to get discounts on accommodation and travel services.
“Following this phase, the pass can be used in all capitals and provinces in Cambodia,” Phirum said. “I encourage the private sector and tourism operators to partner with the ministry to rebuild the [tourism] market and help people travel more conveniently.” The tourism authorities are especially inviting hotels and restaurants as well as transport businesses, whether boats, busses or airlines, to join in.
To encourage people in the country to travel, slogans such as “[e]veryone can go” are being used for the program that has been named “Cambodia: My Homeland.” At this point, Cambodians can register for the pass for free and obtain it digitally, Phirum said, adding that foreigners based in the country can also do so by presenting their passports and visas.
People can register online at https://visitcambodia.travel/. At the present time, the site is in Khmer language, Phirum said, adding that it is in the process of being translated into English.
After the pilot phase scheduled to end in 2023, the pass will be printed out as a card and people will have to pay a fee to obtain it, he said. Cambodians will have to present their identity cards and foreigners their passports and visas, and everyone will have to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards when they register, he added.
The Ministry of Tourism also plans to soon make available an Angkor Lifetime Pass to help attract foreigners to Siem Reap, and is asking the government to review and approve proposals on special tourism packages, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said on Aug. 8 at a meeting of the Subcommittee on Tourism Promotion and Attraction of the Siem Reap-Angkor Tourism Management and Development Committee.
This pass would include the Angkor Lifetime Pass with the choice of the Angkor Pass Package or the Privileged Pass Package, giving visitors priority rights to use tourism services and visit the Angkor Archeological Park for the rest of their lives.
Meanwhile, the Angkor Enterprise on Sept.1 announced that long-term foreign residents in Cambodia will get a free pass to the Angkor temple site and Koh Ker temple under a new government scheme.
Cambodia is expecting one million visitors by the end of 2022 and two million visitors in 2023, as the country will host the 2023 Southeast Asian Games and the ASEAN Para Games, Khon said on July 12 at a press conference during which he spoke of the latest developments in the highly strategic tourism sector.
More than 500,000 international tourists came to Cambodia during the first half of 2022, Khon said. While this represented an increase of 394 percent compared to the same period in 2021—during which the country’s borders were closed due to COVID-19—this still constitutes an 84.8 percent drop compared to the same period in 2019 prior to the pandemic, he said, when 6.6 million international visitors had come to the country.
In 2021, 4.66 million Cambodians visited Cambodia’s major destinations such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap Province, the coastal area and the northeastern provinces, which was a 35.5 percent decrease compared to 2020.