A total of 287,454 standard tickets for Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park were sold to foreign visitors in 2022 amounting to $11.528 million, available in one-day, three-day and seven-day passes, Angkor Enterprise reported.

This marks 2,133 per cent and 2,083 per cent year-on-year increases in terms of number and value of tickets sold, but 88.90 per cent and 90.12 per cent drops from the 2.591 million tickets worth $116.647 million logged in record-breaking 2018, according to statistics from the state-owned enterprise in charge of Angkor income management.

The Angkor Enterprise website currently displays the prices of one-day, three-day and seven-day tickets for the main park area – which includes Angkor Wat – as $37, $62 and $72. The enterprise also reported revenues from Koh Ker area and Chong Kneas Tourist Port ticket sales to the tune of $90,450 and $165,308.

Cambodians do not pay any of these entrance fees.

December was by far last year’s best month for ticket sales across the board. A total of 62,263 standard Angkor tickets were sold for $2.515 million, surging by 1,739 per cent and 1,666 per cent year-on-year in number and value respectively, and 11.50 per cent and 11.74 per cent month-on-month.

Koh Ker area and Chong Kneas Tourist Port ticket sales came to $22,485 and $32,314, up by 9.8 per cent and 18.7 per cent on a monthly basis.

Angkor Enterprise was established in 2016 as a public administration institution under the technical supervision of the tourism and finance ministries.

Angkor Tourist Guide Association president Khieu Thy confirmed to The Post that foreign visitors to the archaeological park have “increased significantly in recent months”, coming from a diverse range of international markets, with considerable numbers not only from Eurasian nations, but also the far-flung US.

He commented that effective Covid-19 management has boosted growth in international arrivals, and the subsequent positive changes in tourism activity have offered renewed hopes to the industry, following a drop to “near zero” levels during the height of the health crisis.

Road infrastructure and related services in Siem Reap have also seen major recent improvements, he said, adding that international flights to its flagship airport are also on an upward march.

Thy predicted that international travel to Siem Reap will generally keep trending upward for the foreseeable future, which he suggested could be bumped up even more by China’s decision to reopen to outbound tourism on January 8.

Beijing’s move comes amid concerns that soaring Covid-19 cases in China could drive the emergence of new and potentially more dangerous variants of the linked coronavirus.

Nonetheless, Prime Minister Hun Sen on January 2 confirmed that Cambodia will not follow in other countries’ footsteps in imposing any additional Covid-related restrictions on arrivals from the Chinese mainland.

On the contrary, the premier presented the development as an opportunity to bring in around “two million” mainland Chinese visitors this year, cashing in on pent-up travel demand.

Of note, according to the tourism ministry, Cambodia has only tallied more than two million annual mainland Chinese visitors twice: 2.024 million in 2018 and 2.362 million in 2019, of which 1.299 million and 1.577 million respectively declared “holiday” as their purpose of visit.

“We’ve all seen the unfortunate but frightening propaganda about the Covid-19 epidemic in China. Those who will be strict when it comes to China, let them do so since that’d just benefit Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.

“Let’s say that [a Chinese traveller] wants to go to some country, but it requires Chinese people to do this or that. Cambodia won’t have such requirements,” the premier explained, issuing an invitation for mainlanders to “come travel [to the Kingdom] as per normal”.

“If any country wants to do anything [in terms of additional Covid restrictions for arrivals from mainland China], they have the right to do so. But Cambodia will instead invite the Chinese over,” he stressed.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin agreed, underscoring that open invitations to travellers of all nationalities, “without discrimination”, could be a “strong” driver of tourist inflows, along with potential let-ups in the Covid-19 and global economic crisis as well as in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“It is certain that in 2023, Cambodia will receive more foreign tourists than in 2022. These signs have been seen since end-2022,” she claimed.

Cambodia welcomed more than 1.914 million international visitors in the first 11 months of 2022, up 1,072 per cent year-on-year, but still down 67.55 per cent versus the 5.898 million recorded in the same period of record-breaking 2019, tourism ministry data indicate.

Of these, “holiday” declarations represented the most at 1.466 million, down 66.85 per cent from January-November 2019, followed by “business” (381,482; down 70.65 per cent) and “others” (66,484; down 62.26 per cent).