Travel hotspots prepare for New Year holiday revellers

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Siem Reap’s tourism director says finding accommodation will not be a problem. Hong Menea

Provincial tourism departments and operators at main tourism destinations said room bookings are on the rise significantly ahead of the upcoming public holidays.

The government set a five-day holiday from August 17-21 to replace the Khmer New Year holidays in April, which were postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

With borders closed, most travellers are expected to be almost completely local.

Ratanakkiri provincial department of tourism director Nget Pitou told The Post on Tuesday that the number of guests booking rooms had risen steadily with about 60 per cent already taken up.

He said the northeast region boasts beautiful nature, which attracts visitors. “I expect the number of tourists visiting Ratanakkiri to increase during the coming holidays, which may be similar to Khmer New Year last year,” he said.

Pitou said between 40,000 and 50,000 people visited during last year’s Khmer New Year celebrations. Ratanakkiri province, he said, has 50 hotels and guesthouses, with a total of 1,060 rooms.

He said he does not expect prices to skyrocket. “We only hope to have more visitors, so prices will not change much,” he said.

Kampot provincial department of tourism director Soy Sinol said about 30 per cent of accommodation in the province had been booked as of Tuesday, with room rates not much higher than usual.

He said he doesn’t think Kampot will have a shortage of accommodation. There are 301 hotels, guesthouses and bungalows, equivalent to 3,400 rooms, he said.

Sinol said his department will promote hygiene and reduce gatherings to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He said Kampot province often faced a shortage of accommodation during past festivals, but given the length of the holiday period, he is not too concerned.

However, Sinol said the number of tourists visiting Kampot province more than doubled in June and July compared to the same period last year.

Siem Reap provincial department of tourism director Ngov Sengkak said he did not have data on hotel and guesthouse bookings in Siem Reap province as yet.

However, he said since Siem Reap has a lot of accommodation, there won’t be a problem. “The local authorities are preparing some entertainment venues to welcome tourists during the upcoming holidays,” he said.

An employee at Elephant Hill Resort in Mondulkiri province who asked not to be named said all 20 rooms have been booked from August 14 to 22, with each room ranging in price from $80 to $120 per night.

He said that most accommodation in Mondulkiri is already booked.

“As far as I know, many hotel and resort rooms in Mondulkiri have been booked,” he said.

According to a report released by the Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday, Cambodia received 1.18 million foreign visitors in the first half of 2020, down 64.6 per cent from the same period last year.