Siem Reap is planning a low-key event in mid-April to celebrate the Khmer New Year, seen by some as a pivotal piece in its efforts to revitalise the tourism sector and the broader economy of the province, according to the provincial administrative chief.
Even so, Siem Reap Provincial Administration director Sun Chamnan told The Post on March 16 that the organiser, the provincial branch of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), has been unable to provide a definitive list of the attractions and activities to be arranged for the “Siem Reap Songkran 2022”.
Nonetheless, he said, given the province’s status as a tourism hotspot, with or without the event, Siem Reap will still see loads of visitors during the holidays, similar to the international New Year’s festivities. Khmer New Year falls on April 14 this year.
He argued that a considerable portion of travellers would be persuaded to make the trip to the northwestern province by the April 4 inauguration of a gargantuan infrastructure project centred around the reconstruction and revamp of 38 major roads.
“With that in mind, the number of travellers is sure to increase. On one hand, the province nowadays receives a large number of foreign tourists, through flights from Singapore and Bangkok, where hotels and guesthouses have reopened. According to figures I’ve received, about 80-90 per cent of guesthouses and hotels have reopened to tourists,” Chamnan said.
Moul Samneang, a receptionist at Pillar Hotel Siem Reap, told The Post on March 16 that Siem Reap Songkran 2022 could be a boon for the tourism sector and hotel businesses in the province, offsetting the dearth of guests staying at accommodations.
“It’s fantastic that the event is being organised – hordes of people visiting could signal a turnaround from the lull for hotels and guesthouses. But things are not that certain because Covid persists in Cambodia, and people are still afraid, lacking the nerve to hit the road,” he said.
“Once the Covid threat recedes, things may end up alright though, as more people start travelling.”
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan praised the province for hosting Siem Reap Songkran 2022.
The Khmer New Year event would greatly help to boost tourism spending and increase local incomes, Sinan suggested, highlighting the extent that residents of the province and across the country have been affected over the past two years due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“For me, if other provinces could do the same as Siem Reap, it’d help stimulate economic growth locally. We can offer such ‘help’ one step at a time, but we must not forget that it could have either long-term and short-term [impact], we really have to let that sink in,” he said.