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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man about town: 20 December 2013

Man about town: 20 December 2013

LOW DECEMBER TOURISM NUMBERS
Chill winds hit town this week, matching the chilly outlook that some in the tourist industry have about this year’s high season which, to date, has certainly not hit the expected heights. Despite predictions of a record high season, numbers appear to be down this month. There’s also concern that the high season may be somewhat shortened this year – the Chinese New Year usually falls in February thus extending seasonal numbers into that month. But this year the celebration falls in January, and there are reports that February numbers are dropping off, and that March will see a crash in tourist numbers. One major hotel reports that it has absolutely zero bookings for March.

And of course there’s the perennial debate about whether Siem Reap has too many hotels. That certainly wasn’t the case last year with high occupancies, but this year there is an estimated 800 new hotel rooms bringing the number of rooms in town to around the 10,000 mark. Plus pundits note that there is a rash of new hotels under construction throughout town. This, observers say, could drive many hotel room prices down to about $35.

There are concerns that continual political problems in Thailand could adversely affect tourism numbers and many tourism players are keeping a wary watch over developments in Myanmar, with a fear that the opening up of tourism there may harm Cambodian numbers.

‘DIVOTS’ McHENRY MOVES ON
The ebullient and effusive Emmett McHenry has finished a five-year stint as general manager of the Sokha Angkor hotel and in a press release he said, “In the five years since I joined the team at Sokha Angkor , the hotel has come on in leaps and bounds. We’ve served prime ministers and presidents and I’m proud of all that we’ve achieved.

“I believe in developing strong multi-cultural teams which demonstrate the essence of Cambodian hospitality and I can honestly say that the team I leave at the Sokha Angkor is ready to tackle any challenge.”

His achievements at the Sokha Angkor include strong growth for the hotel in all markets and guests are drawn from throughout the globe – 70 per cent of those who stay in the resort are from Asia, 8 per cent from Europe and 8 per cent from North America.

Emmett officially finished at Sokha on December 10 and on Monday December 16 he celebrated birthday number 65 at Viva Restaurant. A star of the night was his recently born baby daughter.

He declared he will stay in Siem Reap and seek new challenges, including much-needed improvement in his golfing prowess.

He is also president of the Cambodian Hotel Association Siem Reap Chapter which should soon have 50 members, and he will continue to advise the charity which he set up with Sokha Angkor which provides help and assistance for 156 families living on the lake. This charity has ensured that every child has a school place, and books and bags.

SHORTS
Must see show: Cambodia Space Project performs Galaxy Khmer tonight and tomorrow night at the Phare Circus.

Festive dinners: Nest Angkor Cafe-Bar has a Christmas day special set dinner worth $35+ with a glass of champagne and coffee or tea. The New Year's Eve countdown includes a $55+ set menu with a glass of champagne, coffee or tea and a souvenir gift. Live music and surprises will feature until countdown, with a drink promotion from 10pm until late.

Telling moment: One of Siem Reap’s longest running and much loved restaurants, Tell, has taken a dramatic step and opened an extra floor upstairs with great views of all the night-time downtown madness. And as always, great food. Plus there are two private rooms allowing those who insist on smoking to smoke without bugging others.

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