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SIEM REAP — Fifty boats have been set up to take tourists on excursions along the Siem Reap river while 32 boats compete in the races during the Water Festival in Siem Reap province. This year, the province aims to attract a large number of visitors during the festival held from Nov. 24 through 26, the event having been on hiatus since 2019.
Ly Vannak, spokesperson for the Siem Reap Provincial Administration, said that, in addition to the boat race, many events such as boat markets, traditional games and concerts have been programmed to offer national and international tourists a new festival experience.
“We have Kun Khmer [sport event] and around 30 booths for the communities to showcase their products,” he said. “We want to encourage ‘one village, one product’ so that the communities can display their…products. They will not have to pay for the booths.”
The authorities have also prepared 14 illuminated floats. Plastic was prohibited for the building of the floats: Only natural materials have been allowed, Vannak said, adding that this was decreed as part of efforts to reduce plastic waste in the province. The tour boats will be taking four to five people per trip.
Asked how the boat races were planned given that the Siem Reap river is narrow, Vannak explained that two racing boats would be allowed at a time and that the boats must be 30 meters apart.
“We are quite optimistic that the festival and the events organized are going to attract many tourists,” he said. “They can be here not only for the festival but also for our cultural [events] experience.” A map has been set up so that tourists can refer to it to find the location of each event, he added.
Security teams will be on duty as well as a medical team ready to take action in case of accidents or other emergencies, Vannak said.
“More or less, I do have the expectation that Siem Reap might rank first for the most tourists arriving during the festival,” he said.
Teng Yalirozy contributed to the story.