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Festival set for aquatic thrills

A jetski race will be held off the coast of Sihanoukville on December 31 as part of the Tourism Ministry’s Sea Festival. Reuters

Tens of thousands of people are expected to storm the famed Ochheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville on New Year’s Eve for Cambodia’s inaugural Sea Festival, marking the Kingdom’s entry to the ivy league of most beautiful bays in the world.

The one-day festival on December 31, projected by the Ministry of Tourism as one of the biggest initiatives to celebrate coastal and marine life, is a heady mix of music, sport and food to highlight the impact that oceans make on human life.

The Paris-based Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde, at its seventh General Assembly in Senegal during May this year, accepted Cambodia as the newest member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club in recognition of the country’s efficient coastal and marine management. Cambodia enjoys 440 kilometres of coastline across the provinces of Kampot, Kep, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong.

“This is a unique tourism event,” Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, Vath Chamroeun, said yesterday. “We have concerts involving Malaysian and Indonesian troupes. We have day-long food courts full of Cambodian cuisine and delicacies and specialties from many other countries like India, Thailand, Italy, France.

“For the first time we are introducing 5km open sea swimming and jet skiing [races]. It is bound to be a thrilling experience for Cambodians. The main thrust may be promotion of eco-tourism and opening up of our beautiful beaches, but sport will play a huge part in making this festival an exciting one for the visitors,” he added.

“Bokator will reflect our rich heritage. Beach wrestling will offer performers and spectators a new kind of thrill on the sandy beaches. As always, beach volleyball provides great entertainment, and to add to the fun we have our first shot at horse racing. Three ponies will race each other on sand.”

The Kingdom’s aquatic sports enthusiasts have welcomed the introduction of open sea swimming and jet skiing as a positive step that would boost water-based adventures. “We expect anywhere between 50 to 80 thousand people, which is good news. But the bad news for most visitors is that all the hotels and guesthouses in Sihanoukville are fully booked. Literally there is no room left,” said Vath Chamroeun.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon revealed during a Cambrew-sponsored prize giving ceremony at the Intercontinental hotel in Friday evening for SEA Games gold and silver medalists, that the beverage company had also pledged to support the Sea Festival.



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