A large influx of holidaymakers is expected in Siem Reap during this year’s Water Festival, as the local tourism department reports a tally of more than 1.6million tourists to the historically rich northwestern province in the first nine months of this year.
Known locally as Bon Om Touk, the water festival falls on November 7-9 this year. The second day of the festival corresponds to the full moon date of the Khmer lunar calendar month of Katdoek (or Kartika in Sanskrit), which is believed to be when the long cycle rice crop is ready to be harvested.
From January to September, the provincial tourism department of Siem Reap registered 1,634,352 tourists in the province, compared to 126,719 registered during the corresponding period last year, confirmed a report obtained by The Post on November 1. .
“Domestic” and “international” tourists represented 1,500,200 and 134,152 respectively, compared to 120,552 and 6,167 a year ago. The department did not specifically mention in which category foreign residents in Cambodia were included, but the Khmer terms seem to suggest “international”.
China tops the list of source markets for international tourists with 13,809, compared to 3,316 in the same period last year, followed by France (13,413; compared to 474), the United Kingdom (13,006; 166), United States (12,912; 362), Vietnam (8,485; 119), Thailand (6,965; 171), Germany (6,250; 87), Australia (5,442; 84), South Korea ( 3,630; 202) and Japan (3,510; 210).
September was a fairly busy month, with 229,582 tourists registered – 206,000 “nationals” and 23,582 “foreigners” – or 26.43% more than the monthly average for the nine-month period.
Speaking to The Post on November 1, Siem Reap Provincial Administration Director Ly Vannak said the province is attracting more tourists thanks to, among other things, better road infrastructure, a greater variety of attractions, better street lighting, urban beautification initiatives and government decision. effective approach to the fight against Covid-19.
He expressed his optimism for a significant increase in new jobs and incomes for locals as tourist influx increases in the coming period.
Asked about the upcoming water festival, Vannak replied: “We expect many national and international guests to visit Siem Reap in the coming week for the long holidays as the control over Covid-19 s ‘improved.”
Similarly, the president of the Angkor Tour Guides Association, Khieu Thy, said tourist arrivals to the province have been on a gradual upward trajectory since the vast majority of countries reopened, rolling back pandemic restrictions as that the Covid measures were improving.
Reflecting on next week’s celebrations, he said, “I think many domestic and international holidaymakers will come to Siem Reap for the upcoming water festival, especially locals.
“Afterwards, more foreign guests will come to see Angkor Wat. I am optimistic about the recovery of the Cambodian tourism sector,” he said.
Highlighting examples of progress being made towards recovery in the provincial tourism sector, Thy shared that a good portion of previously empty or closed hotels have received reservations through the end of the year, and that former players in industry are increasingly returning to their craft after branching out into other types of businesses during the darker times of Covid.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, through the strategies set out in the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035 and additional instruments, the province could attract at least 10.9 million domestic tourists and 7.5 million international tourists. per year by 2035.