To attract tourism and make Battambang province more appealing as a nightlife destination, provincial authorities are preparing to follow the way of Siem Reap and lay the groundwork for a Pub Street ahead of the Khmer New Year.
The deputy governor of Battambang, Ngon Ratthanak, says the authorities had decided that Battambang’s first Pub Street would be located in Svay Pou commune, on a riverside stretch of Road No.1, and that it’s hoped the move will attract more visitors to the city as well as entice more people to relocate there.
The provincial authorities’ first step would be to promote a Pub Street exhibition, which will launch in the second week of this month, he says.
“The Pub Street area will be 500 metres long, in the area of the French colonial-era Angkor Hotel in Svay Pou commune,” he says, adding that “after the exhibition, Pub Street will be open permanently”.
Battambang city comprises 10 communes and 62 villages, with a total population of about 147 000 people.
Provincial governor Chan Sophal says that the provincial authorities are still preparing aspects of the new Pub Street area, including ornamental lighting, among other features. He adds that the area will also include shops and restaurants, and that the owners were cooperating with the authorities in getting everything ready.
Battambang, according to the governor, aims to publicise itself as a tourist destination that offers excellent Khmer food and international cuisine, as well as nightlife.
“The authorities are focused on the preparations and we have the support of the Ministry of Tourism,” Sophal says. “This is our first initiative and we hope to attract as many tourists as possible.”
Battambang was ranked number one by the National Committee for Clean City Evaluation both this year and last year, and the city calls itself the Kingdom’s most beautiful city.
“I think that increased tourism will help generate jobs at all level of the tourism sector,” the governor says.
Meanwhile, Eam Sokhon, Battambang city governor, stresses that the city is home to about 800 French-colonial-style buildings and that authorities are trying to preserve them rather than lose them to demolition. If buildings are beyond repair, he says, they should be reconstructed in the same style in which they were built.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Tourism Working Group at CATA, says he supports the idea of Battambang having a Pub Street because tourists do not only want daytime activities and to retire early at night – they also want to be able to go out for dinner and drinks and enjoy performances. Establishing evening events would likely be well received by tourists, creating more jobs for people in many sectors, Vandy adds.
“There are many tourists from Europe who are interested in Battambang city, especially French tourists who want a glimpse of an area that was once under their rule. Tourists from America and Germany are also interested in the province and the city for its traditions and history, as well as its green, beautiful landscape,” he says.