Sea Festival Draws Crowds to Sihanoukville

The ninth Sea Festival has officially started, with many guesthouses and hotels reporting a full house as festival-goers flock to the seaside for six days of fun
The ninth Sea Festival has officially started in Preah Sihanouk province. Kiripost via Tourism Ministry
The ninth Sea Festival has officially started in Preah Sihanouk province. Kiripost via Tourism Ministry

The Sea Festival celebrations have started with a splash in Preah Sihanouk province, with guesthouses and hotels reporting large bookings as tourists flock to the coast to enjoy the six-day event’s activities.

Taing Sochetkrisna, Director of Sihanoukville Provincial Department of Tourism, said that there are about 80 hotels in Sihanoukville, with a total of 9,000 rooms. This ensures accommodation is not in short supply.

“Next to the main road is almost full, leaving four to five rooms for the holidays, but there are still other [hotels or guest houses] along small entrances where guests can book and stay,” he said.

He added that during the Sea Festival, a lot of national guests have booked rooms in addition to many international tourists.

The 9th Sea Festival, which runs from December 9 to 14 under the theme "Beach of Peace, Beach of Hope", will also include a conference on the most beautiful beach club in the world. About 130 international delegates from 21 countries around the world will travel to Sihanoukville to attend the Festival and Conference.

They represent 34 beaches from 21 countries around the world, including Vietnam, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Israel, Turkey, France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, Martinique (in the Caribbean), Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Angola, including host Cambodia.

Ochheuteal beach in Preah Sihanouk, November, 2022. Kiripost/Meas Molika
Ochheuteal beach in Preah Sihanouk, November, 2022. Kiripost/Meas Molika

In addition, there are delegates representing three other observer beaches from Malaysia, Finland and Papua New Guinea.

At the start of the festival, Kim Serey Rat, Director of the Department of Accommodation and Food Services Management of the Ministry of Tourism, said that despite a huge number of tourists booking rooms in Sihanoukville, accommodation is still available for those wanting to join the Sea Festival in the next few days.

“According to the report so far, there is no shortage of rooms for guests, just booking a room nearby is 100 percent full. Usually, they never sell all the rooms in the location [one hotel or guesthouse]. There are always rooms ready for guests in case of any problems [lack of rooms],” he said.

At the festival, there will be a host of activities, including 3km and 5km recreational runs, sailing and basketball at Otres Beach, exhibitions, coastal development projects and Khmer products, and small and medium enterprise products at Techo Stadium.

Khmer boxing (Southeast Asian Championship) will also take place at Otres Beach. While the Board Meeting of the World's Most Beautiful Beach Club will be at the Independent Hotel with a banquet hosted by the Beach Club delegation.

On December 10, there will be 20km and 40km cycling at Otres Beach, and Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to preside over the official opening ceremony at Sokha Hotel. There will also be exhibitions of Khmer products, small and medium enterprise products, trade fairs and foreign products and food and beverage festivals.

On December 12 there will be programs, such as delegations from Sihanoukville visiting Peam Krasop Mangrove Forest in Koh Kong Province, as part of promoting the conservation of mangrove forests and marine biodiversity on Thansur Island.

Tith Chantha, Permanent Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, urged tourism business owners to pay attention to their services and not to increase service fees excessively during the festival.

“I would like to ask all businesses that have received commendation certificates from all 98 locations and receipts of commendation letters from all 82 locations, as well as all businesses, to make efforts to serve customers with good quality and not to increase service fees too much, which can cause a bad image to affect the tourist destination of Sihanoukville and the coast,” he said.

He requested the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration, authorities at all levels and all private parties to work together to maintain security, public order and the beauty of the city during the festival.

Rith Chanthavy, Director of Business Development of Apsara Tourism, said that celebrating more events such as the Sea Festival is such a good thing to help attract more both national and international tourists to visit different tourism sites in Cambodia.

“We are happy to welcome all of these kinds of events that the government is organizing and we would like to see the government create more events because whenever there are events, there is more ability to attract more tourists,” she said.