Tourism officials say the 5th River Festival, which will be held in Kampong Chhnang province this year, will attract at least 500,000 tourists.

This year’s River Festival will take place between March 15 and 17 under the theme “River: Adheres with Peace and Tourism”.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Chuk Chumno on Sunday said preparations for the festival are nearly 100 per cent complete.

“We hope that in the coming river festival, there will be a large number of tourists coming to visit because this is the first time that the province organises this great event,” he said.

He predicts that the upcoming river festival could attract no less than 500,000 visitors.

Kampong Chhang provincial Department of Tourism director Seng Saly said there are currently more than 600 rooms in guest houses and hotels in the province, which are insufficient to meet the number of tourists coming to the festival.

“We have required the guest house and hotel owners to sign a price-determination agreement,” Saly said.

He said Kampong Chhnang province last year received 50,326 tourists who visited such sites as Phnom Neang Kang Rey resort, Tralaeng Keng pagoda, Andong Russey Tourist community and waterfalls in Teuk Phos district.

The Kingdom’s River Festival was first held in 2015 in Kratie province with around 100,000 visitors. In 2016 it was held in Kampong Cham province with about 500,000 participants.

The festival was held in 2017 in Stung Treng province and 140,000 tourists attended. Last year, it was held in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, with about 1.5 million visitors.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said the event will help promote Kampong Chhnang province and boost awareness of the province’s potential among locals and visitors.

“[As a representative of the] tourism sector, I really want to have more such events as they help to promote the tourism sector,” she said.

Samrong Sen Hotel general manager Sok Sarath said his hotel is currently more than 60 per cent booked for the festival period as prices remain unchanged.

“I believe all the rooms will be booked soon. There may be an accommodation shortage when the festival begins,” he said.