Phnom Penh experienced one of its quietest Khmer New Years in recent memory as more residents than usual left the city, while other areas of the country reported higher tourist numbers during the three-day holiday, officials said.
Improved roads, security and living conditions were responsible for more of Phnom Penh’s residents taking to the provinces during the holidays than in previous years, Min Khin, director of the national and international festival organizing committee, said Sunday.
Though it wasn’t an entirely dry New Year in the city, festivities in the capital were more toned down, Min Khin said.
City residents were instructed not to play “dangerous games” over the holidays and most abided by the order, he added.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors to Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Ratanakkiri for the holiday increased substantially compared to previous years, officials said.
“It is strange this year…all the hotels are fully booked,” Sam Heang, president of Siem Reap’s hotel association, reported Friday.
He estimated a 70 percent increase in tourists visiting Siem Reap compared to last year.
Both Sam Heang and Koy Song, director of the Siem Reap Tourism Department, put the Khmer New Year influx down to improvements to the country’s roads.
Hotels in Sihanoukville also reported a jump in the number of visitors.
“Normally, we have between 30 and 40 rooms reserved for the New Year, but this year our rooms are full,” Sy Deth, front office manager at the 141-room Holiday Resort and Casino, said Friday.
In Ratanakkiri province, the Chheng Lok Hotel reported a 60 percent increase in local Cambodian tourists visiting the northeastern province.
Moeung Sonn, managing director of Eurasie Travel, agreed that tourism to the northeast had increased but said the number of foreign visitors to Siem Reap had decreased.