Tourists Flock to Siem Reap and Northeast to Celebrate Year of Tiger

More domestic tourists visited Siem Reap and other northeastern provinces during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations compared to last year, while fewer people visited to Preah Sihanouk province, officials said yesterday.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents said Mondolkiri, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Siem Reap provinces are now more accessible than before and tourists consider them to be less expensive and less crowded than the coast.

“The increase in numbers of local travelers is because of the improvement in infrastructure and security around the country. So people can travel anywhere,” he said, adding that the economic crisis has caused some Cambodians to put off trips abroad and instead explore their home country this year.

Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin said yesterday that about 9,000 tourists visited the Angkor Wat temple complex for the holiday, 20 percent more than 2009. “Lots of people came here and all the hotels were booked,” he said.

He said that the provincial government has paved more dirt roads, improved access to electricity, and installed more traffic lights enhancing Siem Reap city’s appeal and safety.

Nget Pito, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial tourist department, said guesthouses received a boost in occupancy of 24 percent this year compared to last.

“In the first day and a half of Chinese New Year we got around 8,000 visitors…in three days last year we got only 6,443 visitors,” Mr Pito said.

Improvements to National Roads 7 and 78, which connect from Kratie to Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces, respectively, are a large part of the reason, he added.

Still, Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy tourism police chief Ken Puth said this Chinese Lunar New Year has not brought the same good fortune to businesses there.

The number of tourists has decreased 20 percent this holiday, he said.

“At the beach, I can see around 7,000 to 8,000 visitors. It was not as much as last year,” Mr Puth said, blaming the economy for the decrease.


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