During the three days of the Lunar New Year, more than one million holidaymakers made trips across Cambodia, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

A report from the ministry indicated that of the 1,051,472 travellers, 993,991 were domestic and 57,481 were foreign guests.

Among the five provinces receiving the most visitors, coastal Preah Sihanouk was the top destination with 294,301 tourists, followed by Siem Reap (117,677), Battambang (89,446), Pailin (79,693) and Kep (73,145).

Ministry spokesperson Top Sopheak said on February 12 that tours in various resort areas were smooth, without any problems or incidents, citing the report which incorporated data from various tourism departments and additional input from directors of provincial tourism departments. 

“We have noticed an improvement in maintaining order and sanitation in the resorts, thanks to the efforts of both traders and visiting tourists. The enhancement is largely due to the focused attention of the provincial authorities, working in cooperation with the teams from each provincial tourism department stationed at the destinations,” he said.

“The overall situation is such that there have been no significant problems or incidents. We can affirm that the Lunar New Year celebrations proceeded smoothly and our people travelled happily. We also have seen an increasing tendency among our local tourists to travel more frequently during festivals, be they national or global holidays, particularly when the festivals coincide with a weekend,” he added.

Siem Reap, known for its rich cultural and historical sites, has emerged as an appealing destination for both domestic and international tourists during the Lunar New Year. 

According to Ngov Sengkak, director of the provincial tourism department, Siem Reap welcomed nearly 120,000 guests over the holiday. 

“Of that number, nearly 100,000 were domestic tourists, up nearly 11% from 90,000 last year. The number of international tourists was nearly 20,000, up nearly 17% from last year’s more than 15,000,” he said.

Soy Sinol, director of the Kampot provincial tourism department, reported that during the festivities, the most frequented resorts by vacationers in the province were Doung Te River Park, Teuk Chhou and Preah Monivong Bokor National Park. 

“In general, these three places are the most popular, regardless of the festival. Most national and international tourists like to visit these areas. However, some natural community areas also receive a large number of tourists during the holiday,” he added.

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), noted that a significant number of local tourists are inclined to travel during festivals and weekends, particularly following the easing of the Covid-19 situation.

He also observed a substantial increase in the number of Chinese booking trips to Cambodia for the traditional Lunar New Year, estimated to be around 20-30% higher this year compared to the previous season. 

“Most of them book a package tour in collaboration with local tour operators and some arrange their own,” he said. 

“When guests show such a tendency to travel, it’s imperative for all tour operators to develop new tourism products and take into account factors like accommodation prices, service quality and affordability of food to increase their appeal. This is crucial because tourists, after their initial trip, base their decision, whether to return or not, on these aspects,” Vandy added.

He also highlighted the significance of the traditional Lunar New Year as a period when Chinese people travel extensively and pointed out that some countries, including Cambodia, anticipate the increase in Chinese tourists. 

“This year, Cambodia and China have initiated the ‘Year of People-to-People Exchange’, an endeavour which aims to foster friendly relations between Cambodia and China and demonstrates Cambodia’s readiness to welcome Chinese tourists,” he said.