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Pchum Ben tourists turn out

Tourists visit Angkor Wat. Cambodia’s beach and temple towns saw a large increase in tourist numbers over this year’s Pchum Ben holiday
Tourists visit Angkor Wat. Cambodia’s beach and temple towns saw a large increase in tourist numbers over this year’s Pchum Ben holiday. Hong Menea

Pchum Ben tourists turn out

Holidaymakers flocked to Cambodia’s temples and beachside towns during the September 22-24 Pchum Ben holiday break, officials said yesterday.

Nou Sophal, director of the Sihanoukville department of tourism, said the province received about 67,600 visitors over the three-day festival period, up some 76 per cent over the same period last year.

“There has been no rain during these last few days of the festival, which is good for travellers and also good for road conditions,” he said.

Neighbouring Kampot province saw a similarly large increase in arrivals during Pchum Ben, during which Cambodians pray for their ancestors for up to 15 days during September.

Soy Kinal, director of Kampot’s tourism department, said that more than 62,500 visitors rolled into the coastal province during the break. Among the holidaymakers, domestic visitors accounted for more than 60,000.

“That’s about a 65 per cent increase on last year’s Pchum Ben period, with a 66 per cent increase in locals,” Kinal said.

Kinal said Kampot was typically a secondary destination to Sihanoukville or Kep, especially for foreign tourists, and that the Pchum Ben figures were a positive sign of the province’s increasing popularity.

“Usually, there are visitors who drop by Kampot on their way back from Sihanoukville. Or they drop in on their way to Kep province to visit Bokor Mountain,” he added.

In Siem Reap, preliminary figures from the tourism department showed that about 118,100 tourists visited the province between September 22 and September 24, an increase of almost 12 per cent over the same period last year.

Chhoeuy Chhorn, director of the Siem Reap provincial tourism department, said the increase was driven largely by locals who took the three-day holiday as an opportunity to visit the ancient temples.

“This year we have seen more local tourists coming to Angkor Wat over the Pchum Ben holiday compared to previous years,” Chhorn said.

“They come from different provinces, not only from Phnom Penh. We have seen an influx of Cambodian nationals picnicking around the temple area over Pchum Ben.”

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