CNRP Wants Angkor Wat Ticketing Under Tourism Ministry

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said Wednesday that the opposition party will request that the government revoke the Sokimex group’s right to collect the revenue on ticket sales for the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Ticketing for the Angkor Wat temple complex is managed by Sokimex, which is headed by well-connected businessman Sok Kong, but Mr. Ponhearith said he wanted to see the Tourism Ministry take it over.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon answers questions during a meeting with members of the National Assembly's commission on education, religious affairs, culture and tourism at the Assembly building Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Tourism Minister Thong Khon answers questions during a meeting with members of the National Assembly’s commission on education, religious affairs, culture and tourism at the Assembly building Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“We will request that ticket sales must be returned to be managed by the Tourism Ministry because we spend the money to attract the tourists,” Mr. Ponhearith said after meeting with Tourism Minister Thong Khon.

“We should not let other people make profits from the ticket sales without doing anything,” he said.

During the national election campaign last year, CNRP Deputy President Kem Sokha claimed that 2012 ticket sales amounted to $200 million in revenue, basing that estimate on the 3.58 million tourists who visited Cambodia that year.

In response, the Apsara Authority, which maintains the complex and reports directly to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, released a statement rubbishing Mr. Sokha’s claims, explaining that only 1.8 million tickets had been sold in 2012. Based on that figure, at the very least—the cheapest is a $20 single day pass—ticket revenue was $36.17 million.

Mr. Ponhearith, the chairman of the National Assembly’s committee responsible for tourism, called Mr. Khon before the committee at parliament Wednesday.

After the session with Mr. Ponhearith’s committee, Mr. Khon said that he has no idea how much money is collected in ticket sales each year because his ministry is not responsible for the park.

“I do not know about this issue,” he told reporters while leaving the assembly. “I only answer the questions that are under my authority. This is not my authority.”

Apsara Authority director-general Bun Narith declined to comment on whether he thought the Tourism Ministry should take over ticketing from Sokimex.

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