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River Festival cancelled on Covid concerns

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Revellers participate in River Festival activities in 2019. Ministry of Tourism

River Festival cancelled on Covid concerns

The seventh River Festival – scheduled to be held on March 14 in Kampong Thom province – will be postponed until 2022 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said on January 3.

According to Sopheak, the River Festival was inaugurated in 2015 by the tourism ministry in order to boost the number of tourists visiting Cambodia’s rivers.

Cambodia’s rivers are an important source of jobs and sustenance but the ministry wanted to also promote the rivers as tourist attractions due to the role they play in Cambodia’s culture, traditions, and history.

Lessons on these topics as well as on important natural landmarks in Cambodia have always been included in past River Festivals along with exhibitions of local products and crafts for purchase by local and international festival attendees.

The host province for the next River Festival, once it is possible for it to take place, is to be Kampong Thom province.

Kampong Thom borders the Tonle Sap Lake and there are several important cultural and historical attractions in the province such as Sambor Prei Kuk, Kouk Nokor, Phnom Santuk and Boeung Samrith.

Sopheak regrets having to cancel this year’s festival but until the Covid-19 vaccines have been widely deployed in Cambodia, the risk of such an event spreading the virus is just too great, he said.

“It is necessary that we postpone the River Festival until next year in order to support the efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

The sixth River Festival, held in Battambang province on March 14, was organised under the theme River of Peace, River of Prosperity.

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