Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor revenue down; critics cite corruption

Angkor revenue down; critics cite corruption

Angkor revenue down; critics cite corruption


Governmental body responsible for temples say revenue dropped to $30 million in 2008, blaming downturn amid accusations of corruption

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

A view of Angkor Wat. The government says that the tourism slowdown has led to less revenue from ticket sales.

ANGKOR Wat ticket sales dropped almost 10 percent in 2008, said Bun Narith, deputy director of Apsara Authority, the government institute that handles revenue from the attraction, blaming a tourism downturn despite criticism that figures have been manipulated due to corruption.

Revenue from ticket sales dropped to about US$30 million last year from roughly $32 million in 2007, he added. However, uncertainty surrounds the data given that Apsara and tycoon Sok Kong's Sokimex, which owns Sokha Hotels - the organisations that receive revenue from Angkor Wat - have refused to release detailed, concrete figures, critics say.

Explaining the situation, Bun Narith told the Post: "I have not received the exact figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Sokimex," he said, refusing to provide details on their revenue-sharing agreement. Sok Kong was unavailable Tuesday, his assistant Seng Chanthy said, adding that the person responsible for Angkor Wat ticketing was "on holiday".  

Khmer-language daily Koh Santepheap reported on January 13 that the first $3 million in Angkor Wat revenue is split 50-50 between Sokimex and Apsara. Of additional revenue, 15 percent goes to restoration and development at Angkor, 68 percent to Apsara's operating costs and 17 percent to Sokimex.  

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann raised doubts about the figures. "The drop is caused by corruption," he said. "There is no transparency. The number of tourists increased, but ticket revenue dropped," he added, arguing that most tourists to Cambodia visit Angkor Wat and therefore increased numbers would surely lead to higher revenue at the temples.

Independent tourism analyst Moeung Son also doubted the numbers: "Thong Khon, the minister of tourism, changed his mind ... about the revenue decline in 2008. He used to say that the number of tourists increased 5.48 percent this year [in 2008] which is equal to 2.12 million tourists [in total], even though the actual figure did not match ministry expectations."

In April 1999, the government gave Sokimex a 10-year concession on revenue from Angkor Wat ticket sales as part of an agreement to cooperate with Apsara Authority. Critics say it is time the government ended the monopoly, with Yim Sovann suggesting that tourist figures pointed to total revenue closer to $60 million per year.

"If the government conducted a fair and public bidding process ... we would earn more revenue from this, but the government always solely approves Sokimex Company. That is corruption," he said, citing Sokimex ties to the CPP.

Moeung Son agreed there should be an open tender process: "The government has to give private companies an opportunity to bid for the concession for Angkor Wat," he said.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which