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People participate in games as part of Khmer New Year festivities in 2013.
People participate in games as part of Khmer New Year festivities in 2013. Pha Lina

Siem Reap readies for Khmer New Year tourist flood

Tourism authorities in Siem Reap are anticipating that more than a million tourists will descend on the temple town for the Angkor Sangkran festival, the country’s biggest cultural attraction over the Khmer New Year holiday.

Chheuy Chhorn, deputy director of Siem Reap’s tourism department, said many local hotels were already booked solid for the four-day event, which runs from April 13 to 16 this year.

“Angkor Sangkran is the biggest event during Khmer New Year, and all activities will show off our culture and traditions,” he said. “It will attract a lot of tourists, both international and domestic, and they will have an enjoyable time participating in the event.”

Over 1 million foreign and domestic tourists are expected to visit the province during the event, Chhorn said, adding that activities would include food exhibitions, popular games, animal contests and other cultural and traditional activities.

Happy Guest House, a backpacker-oriented lodging in Siem Reap, said its 30 rooms were fully booked during the Angkor Sangkran event since the beginning of the month.

“Fifty per cent of my customers are Khmer,” said owner Phem Chhorpoan. “The event [comes at a good time because] it is low season now, yet it brings us lots of tourists.”

She said rooms at her guesthouse usually run $12 to $15, but the rate was increased by $2 during the event because “it is a popular event there are lots of tourist bookings.”

Angkor Sangkran celebrates the end of the harvesting season, when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labour before the rainy season begins. This is the fourth time for the government-supported event to be held.

Ang Kim Eang, president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the event has proven a success in drawing large numbers of tourists to Siem Reap, especially local middle-class families.

“The event makes Cambodia famous and promotes our tourism sector, as well as adding to national income,” he said.

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