Concern Over Slow Growth of Angkor Visitors

Visits to Angkor Archaeological Park increased 4.2 percent to just under 2.2 million last year, the government body managing ticket sales to the historical temple sites near Siem Reap City announced on Monday.

The figure raised concerns in a tourism sector nervous over an impending ticket price hike at the park that could derail slowing and weak visitor growth.

Tourists climb up and down stairs on a spire at the Angkor Wat temple, the main attraction at Angkor Archaeological Park, in Siem Reap province. (Creative Commons)

Angkor Enterprise, a government organization created in 2015 to take over ticket sales from businessman Sok Kong’s Sokimex group, said in a report released on Monday that ticket sales totaled $62.5 million last year.

In August, Angkor Enterprise announced that foreigners would pay more to enter the park beginning February 1, with one-day ticket prices increasing from $20 to $37, three-day tickets from $40 to $62 and weeklong tickets from $60 to $72.

Hor Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said members of the group feared the hike could hurt fragile tourism growth.

“The private sector in the industry submitted a letter requesting the government to delay the price increase or increase it less,” he said, adding that his group had yet to hear back from the government.

“Angkor Enterprise has said that most tourists only buy a one-day ticket and has discussed with us how to attract tourists to stay longer so we can make more profit,” he said. “The price increase is too high because the increase in international tourists is a lot slower” than it had been in years past.

Foreign visitor arrivals to Siem Reap were up just 2 percent through October last year compared to the same 10-month period the year before, according to the latest statistics from the Tourism Ministry, coming in below a 4.3 percent growth for the comparable countrywide figure.

The World Bank also registered its concern over the slowing growth in the number of international visitors to the country in its latest Cambodia Economic Update published in October, suggesting the government diversify tourist attractions outside Angkor park to keep international tourists longer and encourage them to return.

“It appears that arrivals to Cambodia continue to be largely attracted by the Angkor Wat complex although the country is endowed with countless historical, cultural and natural destinations,” the report says.

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