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Preah Vihear overnight tourist stays a hard sell

Despite a noticeable increase in daily tourist arrivals in Preah Vihear province – home of the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple – overnight stays remain low, tourism officials and guesthouse owners say.

Preah Vihear tourism department figures show that from January to March, foreign tourist arrivals reached 13,217, an increase of 77 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Meanwhile, local tourist arrivals also increased 40 per cent year-on-year to reach a total of 48,454.

You Sokha, deputy director of Preah Vihear’s tourism department, told the Post on Wednesday that despite the increasing number of tourists, many do not stay more than a few hours before continuing en route to Siem Reap.

Sokha said improved road conditions connecting Preah Vihear to Siem Reap province was a major reason for the brief stop-over mentality.

“We have only one place to attract tourists, so we cannot prolong their stays in the province to many days,” he said, adding that the two-hour (200-kilometre) distance between Preah Vihear temple and Siem Reap tends to persuade travellers to seek accommodation in the neighbouring province instead.

“We are trying to diversify tourism destinations within the province in order to lure them into staying longer.”

Sokha expects a slight increase in daily visitors during the Khmer New Year period.

Preah Vihear province currently has about 12 restaurants, 10 entertainment venues such as bars, two hotels, and 27 guesthouses.

Vuth Dara, owner of the 30-room, Morodok Preah Vihear guesthouse, located about 15 kilometers from Preah Vihear temple, said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of guesthouses opening in the area.

Guesthouse business owners are flocking to the province with the expectation that demand will be high because of the positive tourism data, however their hopes are proving to be untrue, Dara added.

“Earlier, my place was quite busy as many visitors come in and out, but now it is quiet,” he said.

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