All of the rooms in hotels and guesthouses in Cambodia’s seaside provinces are booked for the Khmer New Year, which begins Tuesday, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Sunday.
About 2,900 rooms in Preah Sihanouk province, 400 in Koh Kong, 300 in Kampot and 200 in Kep were already booked for the three-day New Year celebrations about a week or two beforehand, Mr Thong Khon said.
“All rooms are booked, mostly by local tourists,” he said by telephone. “The weather is so hot, so people may be interested in swimming rather than visiting temples,” he added.
Receptionist Chan Dara said the 131-room Holiday Hotel in Sihanoukville in Preah Sihanouk province has been booked since early April, and that only about 40 percent of the guests are foreigners. Hundreds of people have called to request a room since then, she said, only to be turned away.
“Some guests are angry at us because we don’t have rooms for them,” she said.
In the interior provinces, Mr Thong Khon said hotels and guesthouses are less busy than along the coast.
But Ratanakkiri tourism department Director Tra Nutsean said in his province more than 500 hotel and guesthouse rooms—nearly all the province has available—have been booked, and that he thinks there won’t be enough rooms for visitors.
“We just met with hotel and guesthouse owners and asked them not to go to their home provinces on New Year,” he said. “We want to provide good service and comfort for all guests.”
Chea Somaly, owner of Hotel Chheng Lok in Ratanakkiri, said she has no plans to visit her hometown in Takeo province during the New Year because her establishment is so busy. The hotel’s old 25-room building is booked, and only four rooms are left in a recently completed 24-room addition, she said.
“Reaching Khmer New Year, we cannot find rooms to serve visitors’ needs,” she said, adding that even though more guesthouses and hotels have been built in the province recently, there aren’t enough rooms for a busy time like the Khmer New Year.
Siem Reap province Deputy Governor Kim Chhay Heang said accommodations are still available in his province.
Thai tourists are likely staying away because of the recent military clash at Preah Vihear temple, he said. Last year during the week of the Khmer New Year, more than 7,000 visitors from Thailand, most of them Khmer Surin, came to the province, he said.
“Thai visitors may not dare to visit because of the dispute,” he said. “However, number of tourists may remain high because Angkor Wat is a popular tourist site, even though, now, accommodations are still available.”