TOURIST arrivals at Angkor increased 15 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, according to Apsara Authority officials who said they expect entrance fees for Angkor Wat to rise from US$32 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2008.
Overall, arrivals to Cambodia are expected to jump 20 percent this year over last, Tourism Minister Thong Khon told the Post, adding that the Angkor temples remain the Kingdom's top draw for visitors, capturing 56 percent of tourists coming to Cambodia.
Some 35,192 more visitors bought tickets to Angkor in the first half of 2008, compared to last year, said Chau Sun Kariya, the director of the tourism department for the Apsara Authority. The authority says $17 million in fees were collected this year so far.
More Vietnamese tourists
South Koreans make up the largest percentage of foreign visitors, and the number of Vietnamese travelling to the temples has surged, Thong Khon said.
He added, however, that Thai visitors has dropped since the start of a military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand over disputed land around the Preah Vihear temple.
"Thai travellers coming by road from Thailand have declined, but Vietnamese travellers coming by road increased about 62 percent," said Thong Khon.
Thai tourism figures have dropped by about three percent, said Koy Song, tourism director for the Apsara Authority at Siem Reap.
"Air travel has been steady, but road visits have fallen," Koy Song told the Post. The Apsara Authority co-manages and collects fees for the Angkor temples with the Sokha Hotel, which is owned by the Cambodian energy giant Sokimex Group, under an agreement that gives a percentage of ticket revenues to both the hotel and conservation efforts, said Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority.
Cambodia's tourism sector earned $1.5 billion last year and remains one of the country's few sources of revenue.