Siem Reap Province
THE controversial Siem Reap Night Market has reopened after being closed for more than two months by provincial authorities, amid concerns that an increase in venues will hurt nighttime businesses already stuggling during the tourist low season.
The market – which opened in early January – caused an uproar among nearby businesses and others who said it blocked a major thoroughfare next to Pub Street and siphoned business from existing markets.
The situation threatens to repeat itself, as an increasing number of markets compete for both vendors and fewer tourists, said Lim Nam, proprietor of the Angkor Night Market.
“In a city of more than 800 stalls, Siem Reap doesn’t have the demand to justify the rising number of night markets,” he said Wednesday.
He added that his 200-stall market was only able to attract 60 vendors.
Siem Reap Night Market owner Huy Leng said Wednesday that he has been operating from a legal vending area underneath a local house for the past 10 days.
However, he also complained of a lack of business, saying that rent was eating away at his finances as he tried to attract vendors by letting them lease stalls rent-free for three months.
“I’m not satisfied with the situation.... I’ve had to pay rent on the site, while letting vendors operate free of charge, and I’m running this market in the low season,” he said.
Bun Tharith, deputy governor of Siem Reap province, said he supported the increase in night markets, but that he wanted them to operate in a way that prevents conflict between owners.
Other market proprietors, such as Noon Night Market owner Seng Phalkun, did not share Lim Nam’s concern about increased competition.
“I am not concerned about the competition.... Success depends on other things, like proper management, marketing and product availability,” he said, adding that his problem was with new markets not having a proper place to conduct business.