Siem Reap’s annual Water Festival celebration has been cancelled, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen said that celebrations would be permitted in the provinces.
Sou Phirin, Siem Reap Governor told Insider that all of Cambodia is still in mourning, and he decided not to celebrate the Water Festival this year.
He said, “If we celebrate the Water Festival, it’s sure to affect those who are mourning the former King, and we would like to show our respect to his Majesty as well.”
The governor said he believed Siem Reap residents would understand the reasons for the cancellation.
Bun Tharith, Deputy Governor of Siem Reap, told Insider that a major reason for canceling the festival was that the venue, the river, runs past the Royal Residence, the official mourning place.
He said, “The Siem Reap River is so close to the Royal Residence that we had to make a clear but hard decision. Siem Reap is a tourism province, but we would like to show our respect to His Majesty.”
He also said that Cambodia has lost a special chance to show traditional culture to delegates who will attend a regional meeting in Siem Reap during the Water Festival period.
He said, “On November 27 until December 1, we will host the annual East Asia Inter-Regional Tourism Forum, and we planned to show delegates our Water Festival.
But now it’s cancelled.
But Bun Tharith added that canceling the water festival shouldn’t adversely affect the tourism sector, because the festival is only an annual one-off occasion.
Kong Kunthea, a goods seller who rents a store along the river every year during the festival, said she makes a lot of profit during the three days because there are so many people out and about.
But even though she’ll lose that extra income this year, she agrees with the decision to cancel the celebration.
“I do agree with what the governor has said, and he made a right decision,” she said.