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Visitors fill hotels in Sihanoukville

Year-end travelers have fully booked Sihanoukville province’s hotels and guesthouses for the first-ever Sea Festival, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors this year, tourism officials said.

Tith Chantha, general director at the Ministry of Tourism, confirmed that all hotel and guesthouse rooms were booked for New Year’s, adding that the Cambodian coast became more popular since joining the Most Beautiful Bays of the World Club in May.

Kuy Sengteang, a receptionist at the Holiday Palace Hotel in the province, said that the hotel’s 81 rooms had been fully booked for about three weeks.

“This year, many [people] called to book the rooms, but our hotel doesn’t have available rooms,” she said.

The Makara and Orchidee Guest Houses in Sihanoukville also reported full capacity from December 24 until January 4.

Seng Kha, deputy director of Sihanoukville province’s Tourism Department, said that of the 4,000 hotel and guesthouse rooms in Preah Sihanouk province, around 1,700 rooms belong to guesthouses and more than 2,000 to hotels.

“I think these numbers cannot accommodate all visitors,” he said.  However, while hotels are booked, he said some small guesthouses in rural areas may still have rooms available.

“We can not assume that all rooms are booked because we also have a lot of hotels and guesthouses in [rural areas],” he said.

The Ministry of Tourism organised the Sea Festival, which starts on December 31, to celebrate Cambodia’s acceptance into the Most Beautiful Bays of the World Club.

Angkor Wat has also seen high tourist numbers as 2011 draws to a close. The number of foreign tourists who visited the park rose by more than 20 per cent through November, according to official figures from the Apsara Authority, the state institution that manages the park.

Ngov Seng Hak, director of Siem Reap province’s Tourism Department, estimates that total numbers may reach 1.5 million foreign visitors by the end of the year.

Ninety-five per cent of international tourists who come to Siem Riep do so to visit the temple complex, he said.

He added that with the sharp growth of tourists, however, the province still lacked services for Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese tourists. Of the 3,400 tourist guides in the country, only 50 speak Vietnamese, he said.

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