A CLIMB in quarterly ticket revenue for tickets to the Angkor temples reflected a slight recovery for a tourism sector hurt by global and regional uncertainty, officials said Monday.
Ticket sales grew 20 percent for the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to figures from Apsara Authority, the agency that manages the temples.
The new figures marked a recovery from 2009 sales, which had dropped 10 percent from levels in 2008, at the onset of the economic downturn.
“We’ve seen a recovery in the whole sector for several months this year, allowing our revenues to increase around 20 percent so far,” Apsara Director General Bun Narith told the Post. “However, last year the impact of the global crisis, the [H1N1] outbreak, as well as political turmoil in Thailand, all impacted the drop in foreign visitors to the Angkor Wat temples.”
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the sales figures reflected the sector’s overall recovery. Revenue declined on the back of a 5 percent fall in foreign visitors to Siem Reap in 2009, he said.
“But I see that in recent months this year, foreign tourists increased around 25 percent [in Siem Reap], which would contribute to the increase of ticket sales revenue,” he said.
The government allows more than 5,000 foreign delegates to visit the temples for free each year, he said.
Last year, the revenue from ticket sales dropped to around US$27 million from nearly $30 million the year before, he added. Cambodia saw revenue of $32 million in 2007.
Although revenue is down, tourist arrivals grew slightly in 2009, up 1.7 percent from 2008, according to the ministry. January arrivals were up 6.36 percent from the same month last year.
Bun Narith said political unrest in Thailand and the military standoff on the Thai border were no longer hurting Cambodia’s tourism sector.
“Now our tourism gateway is changing destinations, from the usual Thailand to Vietnam,” he said. “We saw tourists in the region increasing a lot last year”, especially from China, Singapore, and South Korea, as well as Europe and the United States, he said.
About 5,000 people now visit Angkor Wat every day, he said, with foreign visitors using a weeklong pass over the course of one month, instead of seven days in a row.
“I don’t dare say what percentage we will take this year, but it will be quite a bit better than last year, because the crisis is over,” said Bun Narith.