Tens of thousands of people thronged Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach over the long weekend to celebrate the three-day Sea Festival, under the grandiose theme of “Green City, Clean Beach and Blue Sea”, marking the Kingdom’s entry five years ago to the Ivy League of most beautiful bays in world.
Attended by the highest levels of the Royal Government, the festival had been organised on a massive scale with the involvement of several top ministries and federal agencies including the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
Projected by the Ministry of Tourism as one of the biggest national initiatives to celebrate coastal and marine life, the three day festivities marked a heady mix of music, acrobatic sports, traditional fighting bouts, mixed martial arts, aquatic adventures, local and international cuisines and breathtaking fireworks.
The Paris-based Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde, at its seventh general assembly in Senegal during May 2011, accepted Cambodia as the newest member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club in recognition of the country’s efficient coastal and marine management.
Cambodia enjoys 440 kilometres of coastline across the provinces of Kampot, Kep, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong, and this coastal zone has now completed a full circuit with Sihanoukville hosting the festival for the second time since its inaugural in 2011.
The celebrations were called off in 2012 following the death in October that year of King Father Nordom Sihanouk. Traditional and adventure sports have always been the most popular, attracting massive crowds, and this year was no exception.
With the introduction of MMA, a new dynamic had been built into this high value entertainment, while almost all of Cambodia’s indigenous fighting styles, like Kun Khmer boxing and bokator, and beach wrestling had its fair share of public involvement.
According to top boxing officials, women’s boxing is sure to get bigger if the crowds the bouts managed to attract are any indication.
“We would like to see more adventurous water sports being introduced. Sea swimming is getting popular but our aim is to turn this Sea Festival into a kind of international gala as it coincides with peak tourist arrivals,” secretary-general of the NOCC Vath Chamroeun told The Post.
“The impact of oceans on life is a serious world issue. With millions depending on our coastline for their daily lives, it is imperative we protect and preserve our pristine beaches,” Chamroeun said. “This is the underlying message we would like to send to humanity through this Sea Festival.”