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Tourists flock to beaches, temples

While the streets of Phnom Penh were quiet this holiday period after the Water Festival was cancelled, numbers swelled in the provinces as tourists flocked to Cambodia’s temples and beaches, provincial officials said yesterday.

Chhoeuy Chhorn, director of the Siem Reap Provincial Tourism Department, said Angkor Wat received more than 63,000 visitors over the three-day national holiday, a 17 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

While two days of small-scale boat racing in a Siem Reap commune attracted some tourists, most came to see the temples and “enjoy the night life on pub street,” according to Chhom.

Less than a week after the International Court of Justice clarified Cambodia’s sovereignty over the entire promontory that the 11th-century temple sits on, Preah Vihear temple attracted more than 400 visitors per day during the break. On any normal day the site receives about 100 people.

You Sovan, director of the Provincial Tourism Department in Preah Vihear, said the long weekend saw a “huge increase” in tourist arrivals.

“There are around 400 rooms available in Preah Vihear Province, and 80 to 90 per cent of hotel and guesthouses were full,” he said, adding that the majority of tourists were local.

Cambodia’s beaches too were a popular destination during the break.

Sihanoukville attracted more than 71,000 visitors during this year’s holiday, a 27 per cent increase to last year.

“Accommodation and food prices have slightly increased, but overall people enjoyed the holidays there,” Seng Kha, director of the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Tourism Department said.

Some 19,500 of close to 30,000 visitors coming to Kampot province during the three days went up to Bokor Mountain, according to figures from the provincial tourism department. The remaining headed to Kep and Nataya seaside destinations.

For the third time running the Water Festival was cancelled, this year due to nationwide floods that killed over one hundred people.

The last time the festival took place was in 2010, when over 300 people died tragically during a stampede on a suspension bridge connecting Diamond Island.

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