Khmer New Year Holiday Sees Record Tourist Numbers

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This year’s Khmer New Year holidays attracted more local and foreign tourists than previous years. KHMER TIMES / CHOR SOKUNTHEA

Cambodia’s top tourist destinations recorded a record number of visitors this Khmer New Year, with 2.5 million locals and foreigners traveling to celebrate the festival around the country.

A Ministry of Tourism report said Siem Reap province welcomed almost 1.7 million tourists, up 23 percent from last year. The province’s Angkor Archeological Park and Angkor Sangkranta event attracted the most visitors.

Of visitors to Siem Reap, 1.6 million were domestic tourists and 31,800 were foreign tourists. The ministry report estimated tourism in Siem Reap generated income of about $95 million over the holiday, with local tourists spending at least $50 a day and foreigners up to $500.

Preah Sihanouk province, one of the country’s four coastal areas, saw a 10 percent rise in tourists compared to the previous Khmer New Year, welcoming 143,597 people.

Taing Sochetkrisna, director of Preah Sihanouk’s tourism department, said the number of tourists increased due to better infrastructure connections and new attractions in the area. “Both locals and foreigners are interested in visiting islands in the province because transport services from the mainland are now available,” said Sochetkrisna.

Ahead of the Khmer New Year holiday, the Tourism Ministry called on all service providers not to hike prices and to treat customers fairly. However some said they still intended to charge a premium, saying it is standard practice to charge more during peak season.

Cambodia National Tourism Alliance secretary-general Ho Vandy said the ministry’s efforts to combat overcharging helped boost tourism income over the holiday. “People were confident in the Tourism Ministry’s efforts to stop price increases, so it encouraged them to travel,” said Vandy. “Better transport connections and more tourist attractions also helped.”

Vandy also called for more investment in the sector to upgrade services on offer to visitors and further boost local and foreign tourism in the country.

This article was originally published on the Khmer Times.