The number of tourists visiting Angkor Wat this year seems likely to surpass government
expectations, says Tourism Minister Lay Prohas.
He said visitor figures for the first two months of the year indicate that the number
of tourists coming to Siem Reap this year may be 35 percent higher than last year,
although the ministry had planned for a 25 percent increase. In 2005, 676,809 tourists
visited Siem Reap.
In the first two months last year 151,168 tourists visited Angkor Wat, but this year
168,066 visited in the corresponding period, according to Ministry of Tourism statistics.
Chan Sophal, Siem Reap deputy governor, said air travel figures alone saw at least
2,000 foreign tourists flying into Siem Reap every day.
But an increase in the number of hotels and guest houses in Siem Reap seems to be
more than matching the increase in tourists.
Sophal said Siem Reap has 84 hotels and 165 guesthouses this year, whereas Ministry
of Tourism statistics showed there were 79 hotels and 156 guesthouses last year.
Gan Canp, owner of Baca Villa, said this year at least 20 tourists stayed in his
villa each day, up from 10 a day last year. He claimed more people stayed at his
villa because he gave good service - like free bicycles for guests.
But a staff member at the Angkor Thom Hotel, which lets its 20 rooms for $10 a night,
said that despite Siem Reap receving more visitors, the hotel's occupancy rate had
dropped to only one guest a day because of the increase in the number of hotels.
Sophal said most tourists stayed only two nights in Siem Reap.
"We have not yet organized properly to comfort them," he said. "And
in the town, we don't have places for them to go for a walk at night; we have only
Psar Chas and restaurants."
Prohas said the number of tourists had increased because Cambodia had not been struck
by tsunamis or terrorism.