Tourists continued looking further afield for their Pchum Ben festivities this year, with the northeastern province of Ratanakkiri experiencing a huge spike in visitors, while the coastal destination of Sihanoukville, traditionally popular with locals, saw a big drop.
Nget Pitou, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial tourism department, said the number of tourists was up a whopping 86 percent in comparison to last year, with 3,771 people flocking to the remote province that borders Vietnam. More than 3,600 of them were Cambodian, he said.
Mr. Pitou credited the sharp hike to a number of factors, including a newly improved road linking neighboring—and typically more tourist-friendly—Mondolkiri province, as well as poor weather in the south that left many looking elsewhere for their holiday escape.
“Last year people visited the beach, and this year…they came to the northeast,” Mr. Pitou said.
In comparison, tourist numbers were down by about a third in Preah Sihanouk province, with 60,680 people visiting the coast, including 7,281 foreigners, said Tang Sochetkresna, head of the provincial tourism department.
Improved tourist infrastructure in some of the country’s more remote provinces was another reason for more people seeking a distant getaway, he said.
“It could be down to the weather, such as rain and storms, and apart from this, maybe because the infrastructure has been improved, so people go to other destinations such as Mondolkiri, Ratanakkiri, Kep and Kampot,” he said.
Mr. Sochetkresna said he was unconcerned about the drop in Pchum Ben vacationers, citing a steady increase in overall coastal tourist numbers.
Soam Chenda, the head of the Kep provincial tourism department, said about 10,000 had spent the weekend there, 18 percent more than last year, adding that the province struggled to house the visitors.
“During the daytime they came to visit, eat and swim in Kep and at nighttime they slept in Kampot,” he said.