Restaurant owners struggled to keep up as tourism arrivals to Cambodia’s coastal provinces and Siem Reap jumped dramatically over the three-day Water Festival holiday, according to local officials.
About 150,000 visitors flocked to Siem Reap over the three days of celebration, up a massive 138 per cent from the 63,000 visitors seen during that province’s Water Festival festivities in 2013, which included only two days of small-scale boat racing.
“The festival has not been fully celebrated across the country for three years, so this year people were excited that the celebration was officially resumed,” said Chhoeuy Chhorn, deputy director of the Siem Reap Provincial Tourism Department.
The vast majority of visitors to Siem Reap during this year’s holiday were from Phnom Penh, according to Chhorn, while foreign tourists accounted for 13 per cent of the province’s total draw.
Meanwhile, Nou Sophal, director of Sihanoukville Department of Tourism, similarly said the return of the national holiday had triggered a wave of tourism to the province. More than 82,000 tourists reportedly flooded the seaside province during the three-day festival, up 15 per cent compared to the same period last year. More than 85 per cent of all Sihanoukville visitors were local tourists, according to Sophal.
Tum Phireak, reservation manager of Visoth Restaurant in Siem Reap province, said both the festival and the beginning of the tourism peak season caused his restaurant to be packed from morning to night from the first day of the Water Festival on November 5.
“We see around 20 per cent increase in our customers to all our restaurant. The restaurant was crowded from breakfast to dinner,” he said.
“At the peak time, we can accommodate 200 guests. They ate, left and then a new crowd come in again.”
Ly Rattana, who also manages in Sihanoukville province, said he fed 70 per cent more mouths over the Water Festival season compared to a normal day.
“Visitors during water festival certainly increased. All four of our restaurants were full all day and night during the three days,” he said.