Cambodia counted nearly 4.6 million domestic tourists over this year’s three-day public holiday for the Khmer New Year, including 4.5 million Cambodians and nearly 30,000 foreign residents – a number which officials have said is similar to that seen pre-pandemic.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that a total of 4,590,326 sightseers were recorded across the April 14-16 period in the Kingdom, of which 4,561,477 were nationals and 28,849 (0.63 per cent) were foreign residents. The ministry documented 862,897 tourists on the first day, 1,579,251 on the second and 2,148,178 on the third.

The main tourist destinations were provinces of Battambang (565,618), Kampong Cham (514,447), Siem Reap (400,591), Banteay Meanchey (388,273), Prey Veng (382,867), Kampong Speu (331,809), Pursat (298,037), Kampong Chhnang (275,400), Kampot (254,270) and Preah Sihanouk (232,264), followed by Phnom Penh (222,220).

“The flow of visitors on the third day of the traditional New Year [Saturday, April 16] continued to increase with more crowds compared to the second day. In fact, the figure on the third day increased by about 36 per cent from the second day.

“In total, on the first and second days, the number of visitors during the New Year was more than in 2019 … but for the third day, due to rain in all provinces, the number of visitors was less than in 2019,” he said.

The three primary days of Khmer New Year celebrations this year had a similar number of guests to that of 2019, signifying a rebound of domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels, he added.

Siem Reap provincial Department of Tourism director Ngov Sengkak said that his department had assigned working groups to visit major tourist destinations to control the flow of visitors, ensure the proper implementation of safety rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19, prevent price gouging and inspect sanitation and environmental cleanliness, and noted that the three days passed without significant issues in the province.

He said that Siem Reap welcomed about 400,000 tourists, of which 3,591 were foreign residents.

His department estimated that about 348,000 people visited Angkor Archaeological Park, 24,500 visited the Phnom Kulen National Park, 2,500 visited the Tonle Sap area and about 22,000 visited eco-tourism communities and other areas.

In Preah Sihanouk province, meanwhile, provincial tourism department director Taing Sochet Kresna said his department logged a total of 232,264 tourists – accounting for about 50 per cent of all domestic trips – of which 13,411 were foreign residents in the Kingdom.

He said that his department had not recorded tourism data in the past year due to the province being in lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19.

However, he said that four flights landed in Sihanouk International Airport which contained 205 guests – of which 16 were Cambodians and 189 were foreigners – while 4,087 holidaymakers visited the islands.

The tourism minister noted that areas organising Songkran events, as well as tourist destinations, were prepared to receive large numbers of tourists.