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A tour group makes their way through a section of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap late last year.
A tour group makes their way through a section of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap late last year. Heng Chivoan

Angkor visitor numbers flat in 2015

The number of foreign tourists visiting Cambodia’s most popular landmark, the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap, grew only slightly to 2.1 million last year, bringing in $60 million in ticket sales, according to the Apsara Authority.

Visitor statistics show that while the month of June saw the largest increase in tourists compared to 2014, the peak season months of December, January and February reported decreases in visitor arrivals.

Apsara Authority spokeswoman Chao Sun Kerya attributed this to people not travelling as much during Christmas time, as well as the terror attacks in Paris in November.

“In December, January and February, visitors were low maybe because it was the holiday season and people preferred to stay at home,” she said.

“Most European didn’t travel much because of the economic problems in Europe and terrorist attacks in France, which might have caused fear among travellers,” she added.

Kerya said that other emerging destinations, such as Myanmar, were attracting more tourists, but was confident that Cambodia will still be able to attract tourists to Angkor Wat.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that while there was an increase of overall tourists to the Kingdom, from 4.5 million in 2014 to 4.8 million last year, this increase was not reflected in visitor numbers at Angkor Wat.

He said this could be in part attributed this to an increase in Asian tourists, especially Vietnamese and Chinese, who were less likely inclined to visit the temples compared to westerners.

“Most visitors to Angkor Wat are Asian and they will buy only a one-day ticket, whereas Europeans usually buy 2- or 3-day tickets to visit the temples,” he said.

Kim Eang added that health and terror-related issues in 2015 were also to be considered when looking at the figures, as well as other destinations in the region increasing in popularity, such as Vietnam.

“The World economy was not good. While the US dollar appreciated, the euro’s value is down; so European tourists had to spend more to buy tour package because our ticket sales are in dollars,” he said.

The Angkor Archeological Park is one of main attractions in Cambodia, with the government looking to promote the coastal areas of Kep and Sihanoukville, as well as eco-tourism sites in the northeastern part of the country.

In 2014, there were some 2.05 foreign tourists who visited the ancient temples, generating total revenue of $59.3 million.

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