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The number of visitors to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh for this year’s Water Festival is less than one-fifth last year’s one million due to the cancellation of some festivities late last month by the national government, Phnom Penh Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday, The Khmer Times reported.
The government cancelled the annual boat races that are the hallmark of the festival late last month, citing low water levels and drought in many areas of the country.
Mr. Dimanche said about 50,000 people arrived in Phnom Penh for the three-day festival on its first day Tuesday, and that the number rose to 150,000 on Wednesday. He said it increased yesterday but did not provide an estimate.
Mr. Dimanche cited two reasons for the dramatic decline in visitors. “First, some provinces are affected by drought so farmers have to tend to their rice and other crops,” he said. “Second, there is no boat racing in the capital, but it is happening in some provinces, so people are staying in their province [to celebrate],” he said, adding that concerts and other events are also being held in provincial capitals.
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