The number of domestic and international tourists travelling in Cambodia during this year’s three-day Lunar New Year holiday from February 12-14 dipped 2.23 per cent year-on-year to 892,638, according to Ministry of Tourism data.
Of these, 880,553 locals travelled within the country during the festival, up 6.5 per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, international arrivals plummeted to just 12,085, marking a decrease of 85.40 per cent year-on-year.
Phnom Penh topped the list with 118,502 visitors, followed by the provinces of Siem Reap (117,789), Kampot (102,026), Kep (92,804), Preah Sihanouk (82,065), Ratanakkiri (12,625) and Mondulkiri (19,887).
The fact that the holiday fell on the weekend likely lead to an even larger influx of domestic travellers across the country, according to the ministry.
Initial estimates suggest that tourism expenditures were lower than on previous national holidays, with many travellers opting instead for nearby destinations.
“The influx of tourists at all destinations, be they the capital or the provinces, remains an indispensible cog in the engine and essential pillar of support for the tourism sector that generates income for locals,” the ministry added.
Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Tourism director Taing Sochet Kresna told The Post that visitors to his province during the Lunar New Year holiday surged 25.3 per cent year-on-year. International tourists numbered 6,875, down by 50.26 per cent year-on-year.
“We’ve seen a considerable increase in the number of domestic visitors during the Covid-19 epidemic, as we in Preah Sihanouk further home in on management, public order, environmental protection, coastal sanitation and tip-top road infrastructure, all while we organise events such as bicycle races,” he said.
Sochet Kresna estimated that domestic guests spent an average of $40 per person during a visit to Preah Sihanouk during this Lunar New Year.
“It is vital that locals travel so that the tourism industry can remain afloat during the different phases of Covid-19, in order for one to earn an income and for jobs for staff in the sector to be created,” he said.
Kampot provincial Department of Tourism director Soy Sinol noted that 724 international visitors had travelled to the province for the holiday.
He said: “In a bid to attract tourists, the Kampot provincial Department of Tourism has ramped up the implementation of tourism safety rules in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health’s hygiene guidelines.
“Security and order in public places and tourist destinations in the province are faring well.”
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin noted that the Kingdom’s coastal areas and natural resorts, as well as the temples in Siem Reap province received a fair share of domestic visitors during the holiday.
“Their sightseeing excursions will give local tourism service providers a leg-up in generating revenue,” said Sivlin.