Rather than the traditional trip back to the family home to celebrate the Khmer New Year more Cambodians appear to have chosen to welcome in the year of the tiger as domestic holidaymakers, tourism officials said.
“We can see that hotels and the places to stay are very much full of people,” said Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector Tourism Working Group, on Friday.
Numbers of domestic tourists during the three-day Khmer New Year holiday, which officially came to a close on Friday, have been more than the previous years, though official figures have still to be compiled.
“People cannot book their accommodation or their guesthouse,” Mr Vandy said of the high demand during the holiday.
Early signs show that domestic tourists choose a wide range of destinations to visit.
“This year is different from last year, many people are visiting,” said Sun Heng, deputy governor of Battambang province.
He said that the Sek Sork holiday resort in Ratanak Mondol district as well as the Komping Puoy reservoir and Phnom Sampov mountain resort in Banan district have all catered for swarms of visitors during the festive period.
Sean Sokun, provincial director for Kompong Cham province’s tourism department, echoed Mr Heng’s overview, saying that all the major holiday resorts in his area were full of sizeable family groups from other provinces.
On Thursday, provincial officials in Cambodia’s northeastern provinces reported a rise in visitors to the area.
Cambodia’s coastal provinces also appear to have had a successful holiday season.
In Kep province, officials recorded the number visitors to the area at 4,000 people arriving on Wednesday followed by a further 15,000 on Thursday, said Chhoy Khoeun, provincial director of Kep’s tourism department.
Although this is the first year that authorities in the province have kept records on the number of visitor arrivals during Khmer New Year, Mr Khoeun said that visitors to the area had definitely gone up from last year.
“We don’t have enough boats to bring visitors to [Rabbit] Island,” he added.
Sboang Sarath, governor of Preah Sihanouk province, said most of the hotels and guesthouses were fully booked in Sihanoukville, though the number of visitor arrivals had been less than during the Chinese New Year in February.
“During Khmer New Year, more people tend to visit their homeland,” he said.