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Water Festival brings tourist surge in provinces

121130_07
A boy carries a pair of inner tubes as he runs along a beach in Preah Sihanouk province. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Following the cancellation of the boat racing in Phnom Penh during the three-day Water Festival, which ended yesterday, the Kingdom’s provinces saw an increase in tourists, as holidaymakers left the capital for rural destinations.

Nget Pitou, director of Ratanakiri Department of Tourism, said that the province attracted over 4,400 local tourists, an increase of about 30 per cent compared to last year’s Water Festival holiday, during which only slightly over 3,400 domestic tourists visited the area.

He said the increased numbers of local tourists is a result of the completion of National Road 78 linking Stung Treng province to Ratanakkiri.

The new road reduced travelling time between the two provinces from four hours to one and a half hours.

Soy Sinol, director of Kampot province Department of Tourism, where Bokor Mountain has been developed into a tourist site, said there were about 37,000 national tourists who visited Kampot over the three days, an increase of about 37.79  per cent  compared to the same period last year.

“Of the tourists who visited Kampot, at least 70 per cent of them climbed Bokor Mountain,” said Soy Sinol.

Seng Kha, deputy director of Preah Sihanouk Province’s tourism department, said the province attracted around 40,000 local tourists, who travelled from Phnom Penh and other provinces.

However, this number is not dramatically different from the previous year, when the festival was cancelled.

He said that while crowds of local tourists flocked to visit the seaside province, food and accommodation prices were higher than usual, which he justified as being a bonus for fishermen and service providers who worked during the public holiday.

And Siem Reap Province, home of Cambodia’s most well known cultural heritage sites, did not see many local tourists as the province also cancelled their boat racing celebrations, which are usually held near the town’s royal residence, a Siem Reap tourism official said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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