The sixth river festival is scheduled to take place on March 13-15th this year in Battambang province, according to the Minister of Tourism, Thong Khong.
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He said the government decided to use the event to boost tourism movement and products in the province.
He added that the most important work to be carried out is to promote cultural and tourist attractions and to showcase local products, especially to improve the quality of tourism services in the tourism businesses in the province and the resorts.
Also, the Thong told officials to improve the appearance of the place and ensure a cleaner and greener look and to organise arts and culture, sports and entertainment events during the festival.
He said that the province must prepare the stands for exhibitions by small and medium enterprises, locally produced products, especially plastic substitutes, prepare food street at a convenient location in Battambang city to allow food vendors to operate during and after the event festival.
He also encouraged competition local tourism communities and resorts. Thong added: “They also have to accelerate the urban road and infrastructure repair and urban renewal.”
They have to promote the event to people across the province to encourage them participate in river festivals, environmental hygiene and decorating houses and villages and villagers to help tourists and to strengthening urban sanitation.
At the same time, Thong urged businesses in the province to reduce the use of plastic, instead using products made of rattan, paper etc to reduce damage to the environment and promote the implementation of “clean and green” standards.
Ministry of Tourism spokesperson Chuk Chumno told Khmer Times that Cambodia has can prolong big festivities for a whole year, such as the Sea and River Festivals and other big events.
He said the Sea Festival is celebrated every year at the four coastal provinces to celebrate that Cambodia became a member of a most beautiful beach club in 2011 to develop the coastal area.
However, since we have the Mekong River, which connected Cambodia from China, so the celebration of the river festival is a chance to create new tourism destinations and push them for locals and foreign visitor, while also encouraging more conservation on the Mekong River.
“We held the River Festival in 2015 at Kratie, in Kampong Cham , Tboung Khmum in 2016, in Stung Treng in 2017, in Kandal province on 2018, in Kampong Chhnang in 2019 and this year it will be in Battambang,” Chuk added.
Some critics say river festivital does not bring in money from a foreign country but just from local visitors.
Chuk, however, said that the new products are designed to complement what Cambodian has, such as Angkor Wat and the coastal area, but to make them (foreign tourists) stay longer, it is necessary to prepare more tourist events or activities.
“The river festival is to give more choice to the private sector, travel agents or tour operators to set up their tour packages for their customers so that they can visit the Sea or River Festival organised by the Ministry of Tourism,” he added.
“We also participated with the government in developing infrastructure in the province and connected with other provinces to enable people and foreign tourists to conveniently reach their destination,” Chuk said.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), agreed that though the river festival does not earn more investment and foreign money from other countries, it pushes the current flow of the economy in the country and encourages local investors to expand their investment to contribute with the government towards building infrastructure and providing other services.
“Local investors have the funds, but they do not invest them and they do not participate in developing the country – most of them invest in the real estate sector. This provides them with a chance to look at other investment in the country,” Thourn added.
He said that Cambodia, in contrast with neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, which do not rely much on foreign direct investment, the private sector joined with the government to build their country and expand its prestige. “It is our job as Cambodian investors to do and think like this,” Thourn said.