In an effort to use water sports to improve diplomatic relations, the upcoming Water Festival will include for the first time a special boat race between teams from the six Greater Mekong Subregion countries, Cambodian officials said Monday.
The teams from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China and Burma will compete in a different category than most of the other rowers, using six new boats designed to board only 28 people—significantly smaller than traditional Cambodian boats, said Chea Kean, the deputy secretary-general of the Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Ceremonies.
“The participation will strengthen our friendship and will allow tourists to understand our culture,” Chea Kean said.
Tourism Ministry Secretary of State Thong Khon said the race would also improve economic cooperation between the nations.
The ministry has prepared a 30 second TV spot for the festival that will run on CNN before the holiday, Thong Khon said, adding that the ad is part of a series of CNN spots—at a cost of $60,000 for the year—promoting Cambodia as the newest tourist destination in Asia.
“We want to attract tourists not to visit only Angkor Wat but also the local cultural event,” Thong Khon said.
Mann Chhoeun, Phnom Penh deputy municipal governor, said he estimated there would be around 1.2 million people at this year’s festival.
The Water Festival will take place from Nov 15 to Nov 17.