Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, says the festival known as Angkor Sangkranta should be organised across the country, next year, besides the current venue in Siem Reap.
The PM Hun Sen said the festival should be held in all provinces and the capital city to add value to the traditional New Year celebrations and raise awareness of the country’s culture through special events.
The event has been included in the Visit ASEAN@50 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and to embrace ASEAN as a single tourist destination.
Angkor Sankranta, is held in Siem Reap during the Khmer New Year to build and display Cambodian family values as a whole and to contribute to maintaining Cambodian traditions, culture, and customs.
Organised by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, Angkor Sankranta has drawn more than 1 million local and foreign visitors to experience many of Cambodia’s customs amidst the beautiful ancient Angkor temples.
The festival presents traditional folk dances and games, bullock races, Khmer orchestra recitals, and other performances that correspond to the theme for the year.
Food is a major Angkor Sankranta drawcard. It usually involves the cooking of two four-ton traditional Cambodian cakes, Num Treap Bay, a sticky rice dessert with toasted sesame seeds, and Num Ple Ay, glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar.
This year, the 5th Angkor Sangkranta in Siem Reap, held 14 to 16 April, attracted more than 1,631,000 million domestic and foreign tourists, a 23% increase, generating an income of about USD95 million, the report said.
Ministry of Tourism has urged tourism operators and related businesses to maintain prices during major festivals particularly Angkor Sankranta to ensure consumers are protected and they gain a positive perception of the Cambodian travel experience.
Cambodia’s top tourist destinations recorded a record number of visitors this Khmer New Year, with 2.5 million locals and foreigners traveling to celebrate the festival around the country.
A Tourist Ministry report said Siem Reap province welcomed almost 1.7 million tourists, up 23 percent from last year.
The province’s Angkor Archeological Park and Angkor Sangkranta event attracted the most visitors.
Of visitors to Siem Reap, 1.6 million were domestic tourists and 31,800 were foreign tourists.
The ministry report estimated tourism in Siem Reap generated income of about $95 million over the holiday, with local tourists spending at least $50 a day and foreigners up to $500.
Preah Sihanouk province, one of the country’s four coastal areas, saw a 10 percent rise in tourists compared to the previous Khmer New Year, welcoming 143,597 people.
Taing Sochetkrisna, director of Preah Sihanouk’s tourism department, said the number of tourists increased due to better infrastructure connections and new attractions in the area.
“Both locals and foreigners are interested in visiting islands in the province because transport services from the mainland are now available,” Mr. Sochetkrisna said.
Ahead of the Khmer New Year holiday, the Tourism Ministry called on all service providers not to hike prices and to treat customers fairly.
However some said they still intended to charge a premium, saying it is standard practice to charge more during peak season.
Cambodia National Tourism Alliance secretary-general Ho Vandy said the ministry’s efforts to combat overcharging helped boost tourism income over the holiday.
“People were confident in the Tourism Ministry’s efforts to stop price increases, so it encouraged them to travel,” Mr. Vandy said. “Better transport connections and more tourist attractions also helped.”
Mr. Vandy called for more investment in the sector to upgrade services on offer to visitors and further boost local and foreign tourism in the country.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has prepared a master plan for tourism development across all provinces to attract investment and create more products for tourists.
Tourism Minister, Thong Khon, set out the plan during the first quarter meeting at the ministry earlier this month.
According to the plan, tourism officials at all levels are urged to continue establishing new products and push resorts to keep their surroundings clean.
The minister said: “We also have to push human capital in tourism, promote Cambodian tourism both locally and internationally to respond to current tourism trends.”
“Introducing information communication technology to manage the tourism industry and build good hospitality movements is urgently needed.”
The master plan in the city and provinces has already been implemented, according to the ministry secretary of state, Tith Chantha.
The master plan included infrastructure development, clean and green resorts, well managed social order, widening and building new roads to reach resorts, offering good services, quality, hospitality and manpower in the tourism sector.
“We have inserted a master plan for tourism development into the provincial and city master plans. We have many areas to work on – such as improving the quality of services and getting better staff that are trained.”
Cambodia expects to attract around 7 million foreign tourists by 2020 earning an estimated revenue of around USD5 billion and generating some 1 million direct jobs.
The country projects to welcome as many as 5.4 million international tourists this year.
Last year, the country welcomed 5.1 million visits increasing 5% from 4.77 million in 2015. Overall, tourism revenue declined from USD3.5 billion in 2015, to USD3 billion, or 13% of GDP in 2016.
By the end of 2016, there were 647 hotels, 1,996 guesthouses, 1,844 restaurants, 588 tourist agencies and 5,088 guides registered nationwide.
Cambodia’s first sailing club was officially launched on Sunday, the introduction of which is aimed at engaging youths with aspirations to be part of the 32nd SEA Games in 2023, which Cambodia will be hosting.
Launched by Knai Bang Chatt resort located in Kep town’s Prey Thom commune, the club – which is an associated member of the Cambodian Sailing Federation (CSF) – will offer locals and foreigners a range of sailing courses taught by fully trained instructors in line with the requirements of the CSF.
The sailing club is equipped with several new sailing boats including the Optimist, Hobie Wave, Hobie 16 and T2. Courses provided will be guided by experienced instructors, with an added focus on health and safety guidelines of the UK’s Royal Yacht Club Association.
Present at the club launching, Tourism Minister Thong Khon encouraged more Cambodians to participate as the eco-friendly sport was still in its infancy in Cambodia.
“Sailing has a lot of benefits as the sailing boat is not a machine which runs on gasoline, but it is based on nature. That is the pride of our nation to have this kind of sport,” he said, adding that the sport will be included in the SEA game hosted by Cambodia in 2023.
Mr. Khon urged the Cambodians to come and give the new sport a try as it also promoted good health and environmental conscientiousness.
Jef Moons, founder and CEO of Knai Bang Chatt and its adjacent Sailing Club, lauded the minister’s encouraging address and hoped more Cambodians would participate.
“I feel extremely honored that the Tourism Minister and Cambodian National Olympic Committee President Thong Khon underwrites the importance of sailing,” the Belgian native said.
“At Knai Bang Chatt Sailing Club we have now set a course to create professional sailors, and to connect all Cambodians to new, beautiful experiences on coastal Cambodia,” he added.
John Black, general manager of the luxury boutique hotel and sailing club, said that he was delighted to add another program to the company’s corporate social responsibility roster.
“Water sports are slowly awakening in Cambodia and the thought of being able to introduce the youth of Cambodia to sailing is one that is very exciting indeed,” Mr. Black said.
Ken Satha, Kep provincial governor, said that the provincial authority has tried its best to promote tourism through the development of its infrastructure.
“The provincial administration has tried its best to develop infrastructure to make it more accessible and sanitary through improved garbage management in a bid to make the province a rising star of the southwest,” he said.
Over a million both international and local tourists visit Kep province annually, according to Mr. Satha.
A woman was found dead in her home after choking on a fish she had accidentally swallowed whole while preparing dinner on Wednesday evening in a village in Preah Vihear province, according to police.
Kulen district deputy police chief Yeang Samphuon said that Lim Narom, 46, died soon after swallowing the fish.
“Less than 20 minutes after swallowing the fish, she started coughing up blood and died,” he said, adding that her family could not rush her to the hospital because it was too far from their home.
The officer explained that Ms. Narom was scaling a batch of fish her husband had caught earlier in the day. It is common practice to kill a fish by biting its head before scaling it, the officer said. Ms. Narom had killed and scaled one perch before the second slipped into her throat, he added.
Chheng Reil, a Kulen Tbong village resident, said that Ms. Narom’s funeral would be held today. Ms. Reil said the deceased had three children and described the family as poor.
On January 31, an infant girl died after accidentally swallowing a live fish at her home in Kampong Chhnang province.