PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — 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 regulations go into effect immediately.
Foreign visitors also no longer need to take a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 upon arrival, though they are encouraged to do so on their own, the statement said.
Visas on arrival are also being restored for entry by air, sea and land, the health minister said.
Travelers who are not fully vaccinated are still required to undergo a 14-day quarantine after arriving in Cambodia.
Before the pandemic, Cambodia had developed its tourism industry into an important source of revenue and in 2019 welcomed a record high 6.61 million foreign tourists who spent about $5.31 billion, just under 20% of the county’s gross national product, according to Tourism Ministry statistics.
The number of tourist arrivals in 2020 plunged to 1.31 million, accounting for $1.12 billion in revenue, or just over 4% of GNP. Tourist arrivals last year declined even further to 196,495, accounting for just $184 million in revenue.
Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke about the eased measures Thursday when he visited an orphanage in the eastern province of Prey Veng. He said the spread of COVID-19 was controllable now, as reflected in the declining number of daily new infections.
The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 132 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation’s total since the pandemic began to 134,624 cases, with 3,049 deaths.
Hun Sen said the new rules would make visiting Cambodia easier for tourists and investors, and also help the government cut expenses for health care equipment, workers and tests.
Cambodia had already opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on Nov. 15, two weeks earlier than originally planned, in an effort to revitalize the economy.
More than 80% of Cambodia’s almost 17 million people have received at least two COVID-19 shots.