Cambodian PM presides over opening ceremony of 8th River Festival in Siem Reap


Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Manet on Saturday presided over the opening ceremony of the eighth edition of the River Festival held in the northwestern province of Siem Reap in a bid to promote tourism in the riparian provinces.

In a speech delivered to thousands of festival-goers, Hun Manet said the annual event was also meant to encourage the Cambodian people to protect environment and natural resources along the rivers.

“Peace has turned Cambodia into one of Asia’s attractive destinations for international tourists, investors and business people,” he said, adding that the country is a popular destination for cultural, heritage, historical and eco-tourism.

He said tourism has become a potential catalyst for Cambodia’s sustainable economic growth in the last 30 years, and it will continue to help the kingdom to achieve its goals of becoming an upper-middle income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

The Southeast Asian country recorded 5.45 million international tourist arrivals in 2023, generating a gross revenue of 3.08 billion U.S. dollars, or 7.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), he said.

“We hope that the number of international tourists to Cambodia will surpass the pre-COVID-19 pandemic level by 2025,” Hun Manet said.

In the pre-pandemic era, Cambodia registered 6.6 million international tourist arrivals in 2019, earning 4.92 billion dollars in revenue, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The three-day River Festival themed “River for Peace and Development” kicked off on Friday with the official opening ceremony held on Saturday.

Tourism Minister Sok Soken said visitors could enjoy live concert, art performance, fireworks show, sports event, and tourism product and food exhibitions, among others at the festival.