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More domestic tourism expected over Pchum Ben festival period

Jason Boken / Khmer Times Share:
Tourists at Angkor Wat. Khmer Times

Businesses around Cambodia once again have geared up for a wave of domestic tourism as people travel to different tourist hotspots during the Pchum Ben festival.

Hospitality firms around the country are setting up events as well as offering discounts in the hope of bringing in more revenue during this week’s Pchum Ben holidays. People from around the country celebrate the religious holiday and in most cases have Sept 16, 17 and 18 as time off work, allowing them to visit different parts of the Kingdom.

Businesses last month reaped the benefits of a public holiday as people made the most of their delayed Khmer New Year holidays.

More than 1.16 million internal tourists went on holiday to various provinces during the four-day Khmer New Year from August 17 to 20, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.

Guesthouses at destinations all across the country such as Kampot, Siem Reap and the islands Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem (off the coast of Sihanoukville,) Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri are all offering low-price places to stay during the holidays as well as bars and restaurants organising different events in the hope of enticing customers.

Tony Giddings, owner of The Hideaway Guesthouse in Kampot, said: “We are bringing the prices of our bungalows down to $15 a night, right on the riverside. These holidays are a time for us to try and bring in as many people as possible.

“Kampot is a beautiful riverside town with lots to do including exploring waterfalls and trekking Bokor Mountain and a lot of businesses in town are having different entertainment nights such as live music and quiz nights. Now is the time for people around the country to support local businesses.”

Only a few hours drive and boat ride away from Kampot are the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, some of the most beautiful idyllic islands in Southeast Asia.

Thatched-roof huts, silky sand beaches and crystalline waters make these venues the go-to spot for relaxing in a hammock and soaking up the sun. Some of the beaches on the islands have even been voted some of the best beaches in the world (by such august publications as National Geographic magazine).

Prices have been dropped on the islands to as low as $10 for a beachfront bungalow because of a lack of tourism over the last nine months.

William Fisher, co-owner of Reef Resort, said: “We need to offer the best in a bad situation. Our wooden bungalows are facing a beautiful beach. But now our customers can take advantage of these great value rooms at a much better price. We hope that the public holidays in Cambodia can sustain us through to the end of this pandemic.”

Further away in the region that attracted most tourists over the last public holidays was Siem Reap. It is seen as a must-visit destination for visitors for its World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat and surrounding temples as well as Pub Street.

Local tour guide Chhuon Ramo said: “There is so much to do here in Siem Reap. Whenever we have public holidays we see people come and visit but as soon as the holidays finish it is very quiet again.”

“Our tour company also arranges visits to places such as Battambang, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. These places also suffered because of no tourism so I am hoping that these destinations see
an influx of domestic tourism too.”

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