WASHINGTON -- The State Department issued a travel warning and tour
operators canceled departures to Cambodia following civil unrest
and violence in the streets of the capital city, Phnom Penh.
A spokeswoman said the State Department is recommending that
"Americans don't travel there" and advising those who are in the
country "to stay indoors."
The country's airport was closed and tour operators said
communication with Cambodia was difficult.
Boulder, Colo.-based Asia Transpacific Journeys said it had a
tour group in a Phnom Penh hotel and was working with the
department to arrange their transport out.
Marilyn Staff, the operator's vice president, said, "They're
safe and they're fine and they're being quite well cared for."
Ken Fish, president of New York-based Absolute Asia, said,
"There is no way that I would encourage anybody traveling this week
to do anything other than cancel or postpone their trip."
For the first time in seven years, Fish had to cancel departures
for six clients, offering alternative packages to Vietnam and
Violence erupted when the country's second prime minister
attempted to seize control of the government while the first prime
minister was out of the country. The coup resulted in gunfire on
the streets and looting.
It was the second major incident in recent weeks.
In late June, Cambodia's deposed dictator, Pol Pot, after
spending some 18 years on the lam, was captured by members of his
own Khmer Rouge guerrilla army, who apparently plan to use him as a
bargaining chip to procure amnesty from the country's
Pol Pot is wanted by the government for killing more than 1
million people from 1975 to 1979 in what has been called Cambodia's
With the coup now apparently over, Fish anticipated Cambodia's
political problems would calm down in a few days.
"If people are going next week, I'm telling them to wait and see
for 48 to 72 hours," Fish said.
Orient Flexi-Pax Tours in New York canceled its July and August
departures, but managing director Benny Kokia was optimistic about
fall and winter peak season.
"We will wait and see," Kokia said. "It is still a good
destination for Americans."
ATJ's Staff agreed, but she is hedging her bet in case
Cambodia's hot political situation doesn't cool off by then.
"We're forming contingency plans and alternate itineraries," she