Foreign tourist numbers to Preah Vihear Temple increased by 147 per cent over the first 11 months of the year, while local visitor numbers increased by 84 per cent.
Between January and November, a total of 6,396 foreign tourists visited the temple area, a 147.60 per cent increase over the same period last year, which only saw 2,582 visitors.
There were 86,953 local visitors this year, an increase of 84 per cent compared to last year, when the area welcomed only 47,163 visitors, according to Kong Vibol, a director of the Tourism Department in Preah Vihear province.
“Causes for the increase in visitor numbers are a result of good security along the border area making it easier to visit,” Vibol said.
“Another factor is that the national roads from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have improved,” he said.
According to Vibol, the Pchum Ben holiday period attracted a lot of visitors because the area was not affected by flooding as it was in 2011.
In mid-August, officials from Preah Vihear province met with their counterparts from Thailand’s Ubon province to discuss opening a new border.
However, no progress has been made on the issue yet, according to previous reports by the Post.
“The gateway does not only serve economic and commercial purposes, but also serves the tourism sector,” Vibol said, adding: “We know Preah Vihear Temple is an attractive site and there are good link roads from Siem Reap and from Phnom Penh. There will be more visitors in 2013.”
Along with the increased tourist numbers to the region, some local residents have started to build new accommodation, increasing options for staying in Preah Vihear and Saem towns.
Tuy Chimsreoun, front office manager of Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel at Saem village in Choum Ksann district in Preah Vihear province, said the hotel, comprising 30 rooms, will begin operating in January next year.
“We see some newly finished guesthouses were full for every big holiday.”
“We see about 400 to 500 foreign visitors to Preah Vihear Temple along with about 2,000 Khmer visitors each month,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]