Tourism businesses in Siem Reap have changed their operations to target more domestic tourists.
The move comes as hotels report more than 90 percent occupancy rates for the upcoming Khmer New Year replacement holiday.
Business changes have included hotels dropping room rates as well as restaurants and bars offering a more Khmer-friendly atmosphere with live bands, karaoke and local food.
Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha said his province is preparing to receive more domestic tourists during the upcoming holiday and provincial authorities have organised new programmes to maintain arrivals into the future.
The findings come just one month after Khmer Times last visited the famous temple town and found the once-tourism hotspot with extreme levels of abandoned shop fronts and a sense of despair.
The mass exodus of foreign arrivals – because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – arguably hit the city worse than any other part of the Kingdom.
In response, Seiha chaired a meeting with relevant stakeholders last week to discuss his “Siem Reap Holiday” programme and promote safe tourism within the country.
“We will not only provide scenic and entertainment venues, but some restaurants, hotels and guesthouses must also be ready to welcome the tourists.
These places must follow health and safety guidelines and social-distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Seiha said.
Seiha also announced some of the area’s draft programmes. They include more religious events, food competitions, floating market visits as well as adventure programmes such as cycling, boat rides and golf days.
While social-distancing measures were not followed in the hotel, bars and restaurants there was a sense of renewed hope in the area as business owners awaited the desperately needed national holiday.
Sun Sothy from the popular Lub.D Hotel in Siem Reap said the hotel has so far received bookings for 92 percent of the rooms for the upcoming holiday
“For next week we have recorded a massive increase in bookings. We have 87 rooms and previously we had between 7 to 9 percent occupancy rates, for next week we have 92 percent,” Sothy said.
“Most of the customers we have had were stranded tourists. However, more now are local tourists and this makes us very happy,” he added.
Soun Socheat, from Rohatt Cafe in Siem Reap, said that her restaurant has just reopened for one week after being closed since the pandemic dramatically cut foreign tourists arrivals. Most places closed in March or April
“Since our reopening last week we have been able to employ five serving staff for the restaurant. Since then we have a seen a small increase and we are preparing to welcome more local and domestic tourists during the upcoming-five day holiday,” Socheat said.
According to the government’s official figures, a total of 740,028 domestic tourists travelled throughout Cambodia in July, representing an increase of 15.2 percent compared with the previous month.
Over the first six months of the year, Siem Reap province recorded 167,061 domestic tourists, representing a drop of 87 percent. It recorded 387,839 international tourists, representing a 68 percent drop compared with the same period last year.