PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia on Thursday announced new measures that significantly ease pandemic-related restrictions for foreign visitors, including dropping mandatory COVID-19 tests for travelers who have been vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before their arrival in Cambodia, according to a statement issued by Health Minister Mam Bunheng. The new rules come into force immediately.
Foreign visitors also no longer need to take a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 upon arrival, even if they are encouraged to do so on their own, the statement said.
Visas on arrival will also be restored for entry by air, sea and land, the health minister said.
Travelers who are not fully vaccinated must still undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Cambodia.
Prior to the pandemic, Cambodia had developed its tourism industry into a major source of revenue and in 2019 welcomed a record 6.61 million foreign tourists who spent about $ 5.31 billion, just under 20% of the county’s gross domestic product, according to tourism ministry statistics.
The number of tourist arrivals in 2020 fell to 1.31 million, accounting for $ 1.12 billion in revenue, or just over 4% of GNI. Tourist revenues last year fell even more to 196,495, equivalent to just $ 184 million in revenue.
Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke about the easing measures on Thursday when he visited an orphanage in eastern Prey Veng province. He said the spread of COVID-19 was controllable now, which is reflected in the declining number of daily new infections.
The Ministry of Health on Thursday reported 132 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s total number since the pandemic began to 134,624 cases with 3,049 deaths.
She Sen said the new rules would make it easier for tourists and investors to visit Cambodia and also help the government cut spending on health equipment, workers and tests.
Cambodia had already opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on November 15, two weeks earlier than originally planned, in an attempt to revitalize the economy.
More than 80% of Cambodia’s nearly 17 million people have received at least two COVID-19 shots.