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Russians, locals top Sihanoukville tourists

Around 900,000 people, led by Russian tourists, flocked to the coastal tourist city of Sihanoukville during the April to June period this year, according to the provincial Tourism Department.

For the second quarter of this year, around 885,000 tourists visited the southern beach destination, up 15.8 per cent from the same period last year.

While a bulk of these tourists were Cambodians – making up 669,066 tourists – the remaining 216,000 were foreign tourists.

Nou Sophal, president at Sihanoukville’s Tourism Department, said the increase could be a reflection on better infrastructure in the city, increase in direct fights and improved security conditions.

“This year, we have prepared well to keep tourists safe,” Sophal said.

The increase in tourists to the coastal city is an encouraging sign for the province, said Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector working group, adding that high-quality food, lodging and transportation services are key to highlighting the city’s selling points.

“The most attractive part of Sihanoukville is the beautiful bay and safety [of visitors]”, said Vandy.

He said Sihanoukville authorities should monitor the environmental impact of this tourist influx, which can result in an increase in pollution levels in the city.

Following the Russians were Chinese and Vietnamese tourists, with the Americans and English rounding up the top five visitors-by-country to Sihanoukville.

Given the second-quarter numbers, the total number of tourists in the first six month of 2015 for Sihanoukville and Kampot province was over 1.8 million.

At the same time, Preah Sihanouk International Airport, the smallest of the three international airports in the Kingdom, saw a 123 per cent increase in first-half passenger arrivals.

Khek Norinda, director of communications and public relations at Cambodia Airports, who spoke to the Post last week, said tourists are increasingly aware of Cambodia’s coastal destinations and that the industry needs to maintain these efforts.

The number of Russian tourists expected in the first quarter was dampened slightly, after the KaZantip music festival was cancelled earlier this year, after government officials found it to be indecent and involving “nakedness”.

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