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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Visitor numbers grow over holiday fest

A tourist ferry leaves a pier in Sihanoukville earlier this year.
A tourist ferry leaves a pier in Sihanoukville earlier this year. Sahiba Chawdhary

Visitor numbers grow over holiday fest

Tourism numbers swelled by nearly 16 percent during this year’s Pchum Ben festival, according to the Ministry of Tourism, with officials crediting efforts to improve tourism infrastructure and the quality of services for the higher volume of both domestic and foreign tourists.

In a posting on its Facebook page on Friday, the ministry said hotel and port records showed a total of just over 1 million tourists in the Kingdom during the three-day holiday, a 15.7 percent increase compared to last year’s festival. Domestic tourists made up the bulk of this figure totalling 1,010,000, while foreign tourists numbered about 40,000.

According to the ministry, Siem Reap played host to more visitors during the Pchum Ben festival than any other city in Cambodia. The northern city welcomed over 143,000 tourists during the three-day period, with its year-on-year domestic and foreign tourist numbers increasing by 5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

However, Sihanoukville also saw a significant increase in tourism traffic, with 92,000 predominantly domestic tourists visiting the coastal city – a 15.2 percent increase compared to last year’s Pchum Ben festival.

Taing Socheat Kroesna, director of Preah Sihanouk province’s Tourism Department, attributed this year’s increased tourism traffic in Sihanoukville to better infrastructure and improved services.

“An influx of tourists is always expected during the festival as many people enjoy relaxing on beach during their holiday,” she said.

“The amount of tourists in Sihanoukville has grown and will continue to grow because the city is trying to provide more tourist facilities and better services [for its visitors].”

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, welcomed news of increased tourist numbers during the holiday, but said Cambodian cities must overcome a number of serious challenges if they are to reach their full potential.

“The slow collection of rubbish, shortage of personnel, and spikes in food and accommodation prices are challenges for the tourism sector,” she said. “The government should take swift action in order to control the quality of tourism.”

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