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Cambodia tourism affected despite country's SARS-free report

Issued: 14 April 2003

Cambodia has not reported a single case of SARS affecting much of Asia, but the country's fledging tourism industry is hit as travelers stay away from its neighbors.

Hotel occupancy rates in Siem Riep, the gateway town to the world's famous Angkor Wat temple has fallen to less than 15 percent due to the fear of catching the deadly virus among tourists according to hoteliers in Cambodia.

Passenger arrivals at Siem Riep has also dropped from more than a thousand a day to just 300, with almost half of the regular 24 flights a day suspended.

Reports of death tolls in SARS-infected Asian countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam together with the travel warning announced by WHO (World Health Organization) not to take any unessential trips to the region have caused an effect on airlines, hotel business, and tourist industry.

An operational manager at Siem Riep Airport says that Cambodia is an extended trip for tourists traveling to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Laos and that when they do not fly to those countries, air transport in Cambodia is also seriously affected.

Consequently, the Cambodia's hope to attract one million visitors this year is fading.

The outbreak of SARS claimed at least 130 lives and has infected about 3,000 people, mainly in Asia.



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