Cambodia kicked off the first- ever river festival in northeastern Kratie province on Saturday in a bid to promote eco-tourism along Mekong River.

“Kratie province is well-known among tourists for critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins,” Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An said at the opening ceremony, which was live broadcast on local Bayon TV channel.

“Dolphins are the key source of incomes for residents in the province,” he said, adding that the province is also home to various groups of ethnic minorities.

According to Sok An, the province attracted nearly 250,000 tourists last year, including 22,000 foreigners.

There are currently over 100 dolphins living along the Mekong River in Kratie province.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said, “The first-ever festival is to promote tourism potential along the rivers and to encourage people to contribute to maintaining environment, sanitation, and natural resources.”

He said the festival will be held every year in provinces along the rivers.
The 3-day event started on Friday with the official opening ceremony being held on Saturday evening. The festival will showcase art performances, commercial exhibitions, and sport activities.

Tourism is one of the four sectors supporting the economy. Last year, the Southeast Asian nation received 4.5 million international tourists, generating a total revenue of more than three billion U.S. dollars, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Source from Xinhua.