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Capital draws 4.7 million visitors during festival

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
People enjoy boat races during this year’s Water Festival. According to the Ministry of Tourism, more than 31,400 foreigners visited Phnom Penh during the three-day holiday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

More than 4.7 million tourists visited the capital during the three-day Water Festival holiday, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Tourism yesterday.

The figure represents a 5 percent increase compared with last year’s holiday.

The report says that 4,750,000 Cambodians and 31,446 foreigners visited Phnom Penh during the three days of the holiday.

Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told Khmer Times yesterday that the first day of the Water Festival saw only about half a million visitors, but that this number increased significantly over the next two days.

“On Day 2 and 3 the number of visitors increased considerably because people felt safe and wanted to enjoy themselves,” Mr Sopheak said.

The Water Festival is one of the main holidays in the Cambodian calendar. Traditionally, people from across the country come to Phnom Penh to watch boat races in front of the Royal Palace during the day as well as light displays on boats and fireworks during the night.

According to the ministry report, a total of 5.8 million people travelled in Cambodia during the three days of the Water Festival. This represents a 7 percent increase compared with last year. Around 89,500 of these travellers were foreigners.

“People now enjoy higher incomes so they choose to travel during this holiday. Also, we now have many more attractive tourism products across the country,” Mr Sopheak said. “We see a significant trend in the rise of domestic tourists.”

Ho Vandy, advisor to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, echoed the same sentiment.

“In general, we see that more and more people are choosing to travel during this holiday.

“In Phnom Penh, this year traffic was not so bad. The city was not so crowded. Other destinations around the country were really busy, while others were not.”

Siem Reap province, home of the Angkor Archaeological Park, received 276,577 tourists while Kep, on the coast, saw close to 100,000 tourists, according to the report.

The National Committee for the Organisation of National and International Festivals reported that about 4.5 million people visited Phnom Penh during the Water Festival last year.

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