Fewer New Year Tourists Predicted as Temperatures Soar

Tourists visited the Angkor Wat temple during Khmer New Year in 2023. Photo: Phat Dane

PHNOM PENH – Hot weather may keep the number of international tourists down during Khmer New Year compared to March, a travel industry representative says.

"Most tourism packages include cultural and heritage sites, so it might get too hot for the tourists because of the temples and long distances," Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said.

Temperatures have been rising steadily since February and will continue to rise until the beginning of May, according to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

In some areas they have reached 42 degrees.

CATA said it had always integrated a program in packages for visiting pagodas. “The tour is a part of cultural tourism, so we always include it, Sivlin said.

Another reason for the predicted fall in numbers, was that Cambodia is not holding the Angkor Sangkranta this year, so this program had not been included in tourist packages either.

From 2013 to 2023, the Angkor Sankranta, organized by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, had been the biggest Khmer New Year celebration that attracted many national and international tourists, especially to Siem Reap province.

However, the Angkor Sankranta, aiming to bring together all Cambodians for a traditional new year welcome, was cancelled in March.

Regardless, people have been celebrating Sangkrata events since early April across the country, particularly at high schools or universities.

The 25 capital-provinces are holding Sangkranta events in their territories for local people to celebrate and to attract national and international tourists.

Last year, as many as 13 million people traveled during the Khmer New Year three-day long holiday, of which 55,691 were foreigners.

Siem Reap, which hosted the 10th Angkor Sankranta, was the most attractive province, with 2.1 million visitors, including 13,373 international tourists.

The total figure was a big rise on the 5.17 million in 2022 which had fallen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these, 35,259 were foreigners.

Lay Sopheavotey contributed to the story. 

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