Cambodia earned more than $50 million from ticket sales to the Angkor Archaeological Park in the first five months of this year – an 8.5 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year, Angkor Enterprise figures showed.
From January to May this year, Angkor Enterprise sold a total of 1.12 million tickets to foreign visitors, which generated more than $50.31 million, a decrease from $6.17 million during the same period last year, according to the data.
Angkor Enterprise executive director Ly Se told The Post on Sunday that the drop in revenue was due to tourists’ changing destinations in the Kingdom. He said weather conditions during the period further contributed to the drop.
“Tourists who visited the Angkor Wat temples are mostly one-time visitors which mean that they tend to change to other destinations after visiting them."
“The heat in the past months, as well as the recent rainfalls, have also made it less attractive for foreign tourists to visit the temple,” he said.
Chinese tourists remain the most among foreign visitors visiting the Angkor Wat complex. This is followed by tourists from the US, Japan, the UK and South Korea, the data said.
While the complex received fewer visitors, Cambodia as a whole continues to see an increase in visitors to the eastern and coastal provinces including Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk, said Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak.
“The number of visitors may have dropped in Siem Reap province, but Cambodia overall is still seeing a growth in the number of foreign tourists,” he said, adding that over the past four months, the Kingdom welcomed 2.4 million tourists – up 11.1 per cent from the same period last year.
In a bid to attract more foreign tourists to Siem Reap province, the ministry created the “Siem Reap beyond the Temple” tour packages which includes eco-tourism and community tourism as additional destinations beyond the temples.
“There is nothing we can do about the heat. Tour operators know best how to arrange a package that allows visitors to enjoy the visit despite the heat,” Sopheak said.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin linked the drop to foreign visitors turning to other destinations in neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, which have better infrastructure, cheap local flights and newly launched tourism products and destinations.
“Siem Reap province is Cambodia’s number one tourism destination. It is a concern that the number of visitors is dropping,” she said.
She insists that the private and public sector should work together to create more tourism products for the province to attract visitors.