More than 65,000 people descended upon Sihanoukville for the Cambodian Food and Products Fair, a three-day exhibition of Khmer food and products at Techo Square, according to the Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Tourism.

The multi-day event, held from May 13-15, saw vendors demonstrating the importance of Cambodian food as part of national culture, with the aim of convincing tourism sector suppliers to switch to using Cambodian, rather than imported products.

Department director Taing Sochet Kresna told The Post on May 16 that the exhibition, organised by his department with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and the provincial administration, was conceptualised after their assessment of the ways in which the province could better lure and retain tourists.

He said that despite the province recently developing major tourist attractions as well as tourism, security and safety infrastructure, it remained challenging to keep tourists staying in the area for multiple days due to a lack of recreational activities and events, noting that “a tourist destination needs many factors to work well together to be successful”.

Sochet Kresna said that beyond showcasing Cambodian national dishes, the exhibition hoped to showcase the recent development of Preah Sihanouk province, and become a means for local businesses to generate more jobs as a result of increased interest in locally produced products.

The tourism department director said the exhibition sought also to jointly “strengthen the state and private sector, because when it comes to developing the tourism sector, we cannot separate these two”, he said.

“This was a big event to organise, and involved a lot of participants, which required a lot of resources and money. So the private sector has played and continues to play a very important role in making events such as this happen.”

The Cambodian Food and Product Fair saw more than 30 vendors participating and a total of 65,000 visitors over the three days. The provincial tourism department has announced that it will be organising a similar fair later this year as part of its tourism plan.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post that such fairs are good magnets for tourism, and said this latest fair was a model for other large provinces that are travel hotspots to lure more visitors, thereby creating more opportunities for locals.

“It is a great way to promote our provincial tourist destinations, given that Cambodia as a whole is ready to welcome tourists. It will also help get our tourism operations back in full gear,” she said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun said at the closing ceremony of the fair that it was well attended and had been beneficial to tour operators, restaurants and food vendors. He observed that it had successfully attracted tourists to stay in the province, who had fun on the beach in large numbers during the Visak Bochea holidays.