Cambodia has entered a period in which people will flee the capital, more alcohol
and drugs will be consumed, road accidents will increase, water cannons will be in
use, passers-by will be the target of thrown missiles, and at night the streets of
Phnom Penh will be scenes of wild partying.
Are the Khmer Rouge coming, is this another civil war, have the coalition talks collapsed?
No, it's Khmer New Year, when thousands of city dwellers head for their homelands,
and thousands more take to the streets. Officially the observance is April 13 to15,
but for many celebrants it starts tomorrow and ends the Sunday after next.
Security will be strengthened as Cambodia prepares to welcome more than three million
visitors for Khmer New Year.
The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) estimates a 40 per cent rise in the number of people
going to every province to celebrate the three day national holiday.
Thong Khon, Secretary of State of the MoT, has ordered regional tourism bosses to
work closely with the tourism trade and help strengthen resort management.
Staff from the ministry have visited regional tourism offices to give advice on how
to ensure the safety and security of visitors.
Measures already being put in place throughout the country include better signage
around resorts, more public toilets and uniforms for tourism workers.
Khon said tourists were still only able to see a tenth of the country's attractions
because of transport difficulties caused by poor roads, but the situation is improving.
"Cambodia now is peaceful, has good security and especially has the roads to
get to the resort places, better than previous years," Khon said.
Khon said there was no specific figures for the number of accidents in resorts, but
explained the biggest danger to tourists was traffic accidents and getting into difficulties
The roads to Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and other rural provinces have been upgraded.
Mondulkiri is set to become a popular site because of the lush forests and cool temperatures,
with events laid on including elephant racing a few days before Khmer New Year, as
well as more traditional activities such as dancing and games.
Governor Tor Soeut said Mondulkiri is the one of the provinces in Cambodia which
rarely has accidents or problems.
Siem Reap Governor Chap Nhalyvoud said there will be an exhibition organised by the
Ministry of Industry in his province during the New Year observance. Products will
be brought from otherv provinces and cities.
Say Hak, Sihanoukville Municipal Governor, said there will be more reinforcement
on the safety and security of tourists at the beach and other entertainment places
Phnom Penh markets will remain open but with a limited number of stalls operating.