Local and foreign tourism in Sihanoukville province and Angkor Wat rose significantly last month, according to tourism officials.
Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post
Tourists visit Angkor Wat in June last year.
Seng Kha, deputy director of the Tourism Department of Sinhanoukville province, said the number of local tourists to the province grew from 68,816 in January 2011 to 108,400 in January this year, an increase of 57.52 per cent.
The number of international tourists increased nearly 51 per cent from January 2011’s 15,268 figure to 23,041 people in January 2012.
He said that the first annual New Year’s sea festival held on the beaches of Sihanoukville, together with Chinese New Year’s celebrations and new air routes between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap provinces, has been expediting the new growth.
Director of the province’s International Airport Hun Chhoeun said the passengers utilising the new routes were mostly foreigners, and that flights in both directions were popular.
“Planes are full with only a few days where flights are not full,” he said.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Tourism Private Sector, said the more than 50 per cent increase was immense and that there were many reasons it, and the new air routes were likely a major cause.
“I think that if the airline companies make prices more affordable, the numbers would increase even more,” he said.
Officials based near Angkor Wat, by far Siem Reap’s most popular tourism site, claimed that the number of foreign tourists this January soared as well.
Tourism data for Angkor Wat Archaeological Park showed that the numbers of foreign tourists in January increased nearly 30 per cent month-on-month.
About 206,000 people visited in January this year, compared with 159,000 during the same time last year.
An official from the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap said that each year’s earlier months saw increases in tourist numbers because of the numerous festivals celebrated.