Apsara’s numbers ‘laughable’, Chhay says

Apsara’s numbers ‘laughable’, Chhay says

An opposition lawmaker probing alleged irregularities in Angkor Archaeological Park’s ticket revenues says he’s sceptical about figures released yesterday by the site’s managers showing a boost in sales last month.

The Apsara Authority – which manages the Angkor complex – released its January takings, reporting 250,256 visitors and $7,088,760 from ticket sales, a 5.1 per cent increase from January 2014.

The disclosure, however, didn’t appease the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s Son Chhay, who has accused Apsara of under-reporting ticket revenue. The latest figures, he said, are an attempt to reduce suspicion about irregularities surrounding Cambodia’s biggest tourism draw.

“It seems laughable,” said Chhay, the vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Commission on Finance and Banking.

“They are correcting their false figures to a figure that can be considered reasonable. We need to have a proper investigation, this change of figure cannot hide Apsara’s mistake.”

However, Apsara spokeswoman Kerya Chau Sun denied it had supplied incorrect figures and pointed out that many other government bodies didn’t publicise their finances at all.

Apsara, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, has long faced questions over its profit-sharing agreement with private company Sokimex, to which it has outsourced ticketing for the complex since 1999.

Last year, Siem Reap received 5.02 million visitors, according to the provincial tourism office. But Apsara reported only 2.05 million in ticket sales for the year, with a $59.3 million income. Lawmakers plan to question the organisation in March.

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