Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that she expected that there will be a lot of domestic and some international tourists visiting various provinces and towns over the Water Festival holiday, especially Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
She also said that she strongly believes that the coastal areas are the best places to attract both domestic and foreign tourists.
“Domestic and foreign visitors now prefer the coastal areas. In addition, Siem Reap is also an attractive area and the north-eastern areas alike,” she said.
She added that many tourists had so far booked guesthouses and resorts in advance and prices may be higher than usual, but not too much compared to the previous months. Services in the tourist sector may increase some in price, but only by 10 per cent she estimated.
She continued that this year the number of tourists may be higher in Sihanoukville than in previous years because Cambodia now has the expressway.
“The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway helps stimulate the growth of tourism because it is convenient, easy and saves a lot of time.
“I appeal to tourist service providers not to increase prices. The provision of good services is attractive and makes our tourist businesses sustainable,” Sivlin stated.
Ministry of Tourism secretary of state and spokesman Top Sopheak said that for 2022, certain provinces had prepared to celebrate the Water Festival, while some others have not planned much for it and the coastal areas are also very attractive aside from the holiday events.
He reminded all vendors to set a clear price, rather than increase the price and overcharge travellers, especially foreigners, because it creates a bad impression and isn't fair.
“If any vendor charges a higher price than their menu lists, they could be held responsible for it. In the past, there were not many clashes, and some vendors lower the price to attract customers,” he added.
He continued that in Siem Reap province and some areas, there are discounts, while in some areas there is a slight increase in prices.
A vendor in Phsar Leu of Preah Sihanouk province has high expectations for a growing number of tourists at the Water Festival, saying: “A month ago, I did not sell much, but this last week I sold a lot and I hope that I will do well during Water Festival. During the Covid-19 period, I almost starved.”
Saran, who runs a restaurant near the Two Lions roundabout, said on November 6: “Today, there are so many guests we almost have no seats left. A lot of tables are also booked. I do not dare say whether there are tables or not at the Water Festival because a lot of tables are booked solid.”
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, noted that the holiday is a Khmer tradition that is always celebrated annually. The cancellation of the water festival in Phnom Penh is unfortunate but makes sense given the ASEAN Summit.
However, he hoped that the festivals held in various provinces will have more tourists visiting since the capital celebrations are canceled, so it can help alleviate the poverty of those vendors to some extent.