The number of Cambodians travelling within the country during King’s Birthday, a public holiday that runs from May 13 to 15, has increased markedly this year, particularly in major tourism destinations, according to tourism industry insiders.
Improved roads, a growing tourism offer and rising incomes have all contributed to the hike in domestic tourists, tourism experts interviewed by Khmer Times say.
Soy Sinol, director of Kampot’s Tourism Department, said 80,000 locals visited the coastal region this year during the three-day holiday.
“The number of tourist arrivals continues to increase with each subsequent long holiday because of our proximity to the capital and other tourist spots, as wells as the fact that we have increased our offer by establishing new tourism sites and products,” Mr Sinol said, adding that many tourists visit the region to try its famed seafood.
Chuk Chumnor, director of the Department of Cultural Tourism and Resorts, said the most visited destinations this year were Siem Reap, Battambang, the coast and the northeast, where eco-tourism is booming.
“New tourism products, better service in most establishments, and safer conditions in almost all destinations have contributed to a rise in both local and foreign travellers during the holiday.”
Ratanakkiri is not bucking the trend either. 7,000 tourists visited the province since Sunday, a 70 percent increase compared to last year’s holiday, according to Nget Pitu, director of Ratanakkiri’s Tourism Department.
“Better infrastructure connecting our province to other provinces in the country has made it possible for more people to visit us during the long holiday,” he said.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, attributed the rise in tourists to an increase in the number and quality of tourism products around the country.
“People are much more interested in travelling because they are realising that the quality of the services they are going to receive is much higher than it used to be,” she said.
According to Mr Chumnor, a number of tourism destinations in the country had insufficient hotels and guesthouses to meet demand during the long holiday.
Occupancy rates were noticeably high in Koh Kong province in the coast, where Asean Hotel, for example, was fully booked during King’s Birthday.
“We don’t have any more rooms available. The number of travellers has increased drastically since Sunday,” an employee of the hotel told Khmer Times.