The number of tourists travelling during the three-day Khmer New Year festivities saw a dramatic increase this year, with the largest attraction – Angkor Sangkran in Siem Reap – hosting more than a million visitors last week.
The festival, which was celebrated across the country from April 14-16, attracts tourists to Siem Reap and the coastal provinces of Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong. In Siem Reap, the Angkor Sangkran festival saw a million locals in attendance, tripling last year’s numbers, according to the provincial tourism office.
“With sound political stability, people can earn more allowing them to visit any tourism site during the holidays, especially to my province as we held the big event – Angkor Sangkran,” said Chheuy Chhorn, deputy director of Siem Reap Tourism Department.
Chhorn said the festivities were boosted by the presence of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who not only opened the event but even partook in the events, which included a 2,000-person Madison line dance, cow cart races and the display of a giant sticky rice cake and an oversized wooden filter used to make Prahok, a local fish paste.
“You see, the number of local tourists has increased three times compared to previous New Year [celebrations] and it generated about $50 million in revenue for the local people here,” he added.
This year’s Angkor Sangkran was organised by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia and is the third year of celebrations in the province. Chhorn said this was the last time the UYFC would organise the event, but the local authorities would still continue their cooperation with UYFC to organise the event in the future.
“Sure, we will cooperate with each other for the event in order to attract our people to enjoy the province, but it will not be big like this,” he added.
Sihanoukville province attracted 70,945 tourists, up 34 per cent from 2014, during the three-day national holiday. Of this, 63,141 were local travellers, where as international tourists saw an 84 per cent increase to 7,807, according to data from the provincial Tourism Department.
Nou Sophal, director of the province’s Tourism Department, said that the province held recreational activities, like an expo and concerts, to attract tourists.
“We still see that a lot of people were coming here despite the big event in Siem Reap,” he said.
Soy Sinol, director of the Kampot Tourism Department, said the province attracted more than 76,000 tourists, largely Cambodian locals. He added the promotion of Bokor Mountain as a tourist attraction has played a major role in increasing the province’s low visitor numbers.
“If you look at the growth figure, we got very slight increase. But, if you look at number of tourists visiting us it has sharply increased, compared to the last few years, during the Khmer New Year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Koh Kong attracted more than 18,000 tourists last week, a jump of more than 50 per cent when compared to the 12,000 who visited the coastal province last year.
“This New Year celebration we had a little bit of problem with food supply for the tourists, as some restaurant and food courts here were closed as they didn’t have enough staff who went hometown.
But, for the accommodations they were sufficient,” Soy Sinol said, adding that the province also held a trade fair near the Thai border.