Cambodia reaped more than $88 million from 1,147,359 domestic trips made from November 15-21 during the Water Festival holidays, in a positive sign of recovery for the tourism industry, clobbered by the Covid crisis for nearly two years.
Known locally as Bon Om Touk, the Water Festival fell from November 18-20 this year, the second day of which aligns with the date of the full moon in the Khmer lunar calendar month of Katdoek (or Kartika in Sanskrit) when the long-cycle rice crops begin to be ready for harvest.
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on November 22 that holidaymakers spent more on food, lodgings and other tourism amenities during the Water Festival than over the Pchum Ben fortnight in September-October, providing a substantial windfall for the private sector and workers at tourist attractions.
“Previously, a Cambodian tourist travelling for two nights and three days would pay $50-80, whereas foreigners could splash out between $90 and $95 per day, accounting for food and accommodation,” he said.
Citing research by the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, Ho Vandy, an adviser to the association, said travellers who visit tourist resorts during major holidays – generally two or three days long – especially in top destinations such as the towns of Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Kampot, can splurge as much as $80-120 per person.
He opined that the fact “that local holidaymakers took lots of trips during the Water Festival inherently bodes well for attracting tourists to Cambodia”.
The Ministry of Tourism reported that in November 15-21, 102,167 domestic trips were made to the coastal province of Kampot in the Kingdom’s southwest, an increasingly popular holiday choice.
This puts Kampot behind Phnom Penh (203,454) and the provinces of Preah Sihanouk (145,042) and Siem Reap (141,219), and ahead of Kep (92,538) and Pursat (75,578).
Kampot provincial Department of Tourism director Soy Sinol noted that the Teuk Chhou Resort ranked the top destination in the province with 30,000 visitors, followed by Bokor Mountain at 20,000.
While noting that no official figures on average tourist spending have been released, Sinol offered an estimate of $45-50 per trip made by his team.
He added that a study conducted by the department in 2017 found that 42 per cent of visitors to Kampot left the province on the same day.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the heightened levels of domestic tourism for nearly a week have restored the trust and confidence of prospective travellers, and created significant economic flows into local communities and throughout the country, as tour operators latch on to opportunities for a more rapid recovery.