The 2018 Water Festival in Phnom Penh saw a 50 per cent increase in visitors compared to last year, while those who headed to the provinces during the holiday rose by 15.6 per cent, the Ministry of Tourism’s official Facebook page said.

Some 4.5 million people attended the three-day festival in Phnom Penh, of which around 12,000 were foreigners, said the ministry’s data.

It said some 925,000 tourists travelled to the provinces, of which 842,000 were local. The figure was up 15.3 per cent from last year. About 83,000 foreigners also travelled to the provinces – up 18.5 per cent.

Siem Reap Provincial Department of Tourism director Ngov Seng Kak said the number of tourists visiting temples and other resorts in Siem Reap during the three-day holiday was over 330,000 – up 18.53 per cent from last year.

More than 300,000 were local tourists (up 19.6 per cent), and 32,896 were foreigners – up three per cent.

“Tourists visiting Siem Reap have grown steadily, as the authorities have designed many entertainment activities along the river and Pub Street,” he said.

Seng Kak said there are currently more than 22,000 rooms at hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap.

In the first 10 months of this year, Siem Reap received 2.09 million tourists or a more than eight per cent increase. They were led by visitors from China, South Korea, Japan and the US.

As expected by the ministry, Siem Reap will receive a total of about 5.5 million guests this year, of which 2.5 million will be foreigners.

Kampot Provincial Department of Tourism director Soy Sinol said during the holidays, Kampot province saw nearly 100,000 visitors – up nearly 19 per cent from last year. Of the figure, nearly 90 per cent were local tourists.

“The high growth of tourists is because Kampot has a lot of products for them which are unlike those in other areas,” he said.

An industry insider suggested that the good infrastructure, income growth and good service quality made domestic travel more attractive.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said promoting the quality and value of services and political stability has played an important role in encouraging tourism to Cambodia.

“The number of tourists travelling to the northeast region increased during the Water Festival this year because there are a lot of services and natural settings,” she said.

However, she said although the number of tourists increased everywhere else, Preah Sihanouk province suffered a deep decline.

“Maybe it was because Preah Sihanouk province has a large number of Chinese tourists who are staying there, making it difficult [for others] to find accommodation and [affordable] food,” said Sivlin.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Department of Tourism deputy director Veng Sisovong, told local media that his province welcomed about 63,000 tourists during the holiday, which is a decline of some 25.88 per cent from last year.

Of the figure, 50,230 were domestic tourists – a fall of 32.07 per cent Sinol said Kampot province did not see the drop in tourist arrivals that Preah Sihanouk province did because the provinces have different potential.