The reintroduction of visas on arrival is expected to attract investment, business and tourism
A Cambodian girl receives a dose of coronavirus vaccine at a health center in Phnom Penh. (Photo: AFP)
Cambodia has dropped all testing for Covid-19 and reintroduced its pre-pandemic visa-on-arrival system in a bid to resuscitate its economy, especially sectors like tourism.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said easing the entry requirements for international travelers would attract investment, business and tourism to the kingdom.
“It will also reduce nose pain from taking the Covid-19 test,” he said. “Undergoing a Covid-19 test is costly as it requires test kits and personal protective equipment.”
However, all inbound passengers must still present a full Covid-19 vaccination certificate upon arrival. If not, then travelers must get vaccinated within 14 days at a location designated by the Ministry of Health.
Cambodia has so far vaccinated more than 92 percent of its population. Nearly eight million people have received a third dose and more than 1.1 million have received a fourth shot.
Recent Covid-19 case numbers have fallen to less than 150 a day, according to official data.
“We facilitate this to attract investment, business and tourism in Cambodia. These are the points where we continue to move forward with the goal of developing living with Covid-19”
Hun Sen announced a reopening of the country in November, but restrictions remained as the Omicron variant of the disease — more contagious but less deadly — emerged.
Foreign investment has collapsed to a trickle and the pandemic to date is expected to cost around six million jobs in the informal economy, which analysts say accounts for about 80 percent of Cambodia’s GDP, drawn from a population of 16.5 million people.
About US$1.2 billion has been allocated to bolster the economy and the government has established a $200 million reserve fund — its first ever — to directly help the impoverished.
“Testing is not just about having a runny nose, it costs money every day. The Royal Government spends a lot of money, including testing equipment, testing clothes,” Hun Sen said.
“We facilitate this to attract investment, business and tourism in Cambodia. These are the points where we continue to move forward with the goal of developing living with Covid-19.”
The decision was welcomed by the business community, which has praised Cambodia’s early efforts in combating the disease, including an early rollout of its vaccination program with the backing of inoculations provided by China, the United States and Australia.
“This country has been hit very hard by Covid and we’ve seen an exodus of investment over the years, in particular Chinese investment which was once the main driver of the economy,” said a Western business operator who declined to be named.
“These decisions will at least give Cambodia parity with other countries that have moved in a similar direction, like Malaysia, and in time we are hoping for a real economic recovery.”
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