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New Year Holiday Brought Millions of Dollars to Siem Reap, Officials Say


Dancers holding umbrellas in Siem Reap during the Khmer New Year celebration.

Dancers holding umbrellas in Siem Reap during the Khmer New Year celebration.

A three-day holiday in the tourist town of Siem Reap has garnered millions of dollars in economic value, officials said Tuesday.

The Angkor Sankranta, held near the famed temples of Angkor Wat, celebrates the Khmer New Year, a lunar holiday that typically falls in April. It was a major event this year, bringing in some $50 million to the economy from one million visitors, said Khim Bunsong, the governor of the province.

That kind of spending will spur further economic activity, Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Tourism Working Group, a joint venture between the government and private sector, told VOA Khmer.

This was the third year of Angkor Sangkranta, which is organized by the Union of Youth Federations in Cambodia, an organization led by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many.

The three-day event ran last week, from Tuesday to Thursday, and included a concert, traditional Cambodian games, art shows, product fairs and dances.

Soum Ratanak, a spokesman for the UYFC, said the numbers of visitors significantly increased from last year, when about 380,000 people attended. More promotion and better organization helped bring in more people, he said.

“We had many special events, including big steamed sticky rice and dancing for world records,” he said.

The high numbers were also a reflection of smoother political relations between Hun Sen and his rival, Sam Rainsy, head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, he said, both of whom encouraged their supporters to attend and who both attended ceremonies themselves.

Ho Vandy said the money spent during the festival will now ripple through the local economy, after it was spent on hotels, restaurants and transportation. Other beneficiaries were street vendors and souvenir sellers, he said.

Such holidays should receive even more support, he added, to stimulate economic activity in the country.

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