Phnom Penh draws 4.7 million visitors during water festival

People enjoy boat races during this year’s Water Festival in Phnom Penh. (Khmer Times photo)

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.

The figure represents a 5% increase compared with last year’s holiday, the Khmer Times reported on Thursday.

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

Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told the Khmer Times that the first day of the 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,” 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 festival this year. This represents a 7% 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,” Sopheak said. “We see a significant trend in the rise of domestic tourists.”