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Apsara mulls hike for Angkor Wat tickets

Visitors wander through the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat
Visitors wander through the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. The Apsara Authority is looking into raising the entrance fee to the complex, bringing it on par with similar international tourist destinations. Hong Menea

Apsara mulls hike for Angkor Wat tickets

The Apsara Authority, the government entity that manages the ancient temple complex at Angkor, is studying the possibility of increasing ticket prices, stating that current prices are “low” when compared with similar destinations in other countries.

Long Kosal, deputy director of the Apsara Authority’s Communications Department, said yesterday that internal discussions among government officials and relevant stakeholders are under way to raise ticket prices, keeping in mind its impact on tourist traffic.

“Current prices are low compared to what the complex provides to tourists. At the complex, tourists can see more than just the Angkor Wat temple, but also Bayon Temple, Banteay Srey Temple. Compared to destinations in other countries, our price is relatively low,” Kosal said.

Apsara is considering conducting a study as well to determine an “affordable” price that will lessen the impact on tourism, with Kosal saying that it was too early to quote a specific price.

Currently, foreign visitors pay $20 for a one-day entrance pass to the complex, $40 for three days and $60 for a weeklong pass.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Public and Private Sector Tourism Working Group, said if prices were to rise steeply, it would increase the base cost of tour packages, with tourists possibly visiting other destinations with cheaper tour packages.

“If the new price is too high, it will affect current tour packages that are arranged by tour operators. It will add up the cost burden to visitors, and if the tour package is expensive, visitors will likely switch to other destinations,” he said.

Vandy said the private sector should be included in the discussions before a new price is announced.

Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, said that current ticket prices are low when compared with other countries, and that increasing ticket prices will have less of an impact on the number of tourists coming to Cambodia if businesses ensure the quality of services they are providing.

“No one likes higher prices, [but] tourists will not decide to visit a place based on price alone. If Cambodia has the best hotels, best food and hospitality, they will come despite the price,” he said.

According to Apsara Authority, over 2 million tickets were sold last year, bringing in almost $60 million in revenues, an increase from the $57.6 million reported in 2013. However, Son Chhay, senior lawmaker with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, contests these figures.

“To increase revenues, there is no need to raise current prices, as it is already an acceptable one. What matters is that Apsara Authority has been hiding the number of [foreign] visitors entering Angkor Wat complex,” Chhay said.

He added that a mechanism needs to be put in place to guarantee the transparency of visitor figures entering the temple complex, which would show an increase in revenues without having to raise prices.

“They report that 90 per cent of the total Angkor Wat temple visitors only buy one-day tickets, which, I think is not possible because the temple complex is so big that you need at least three days to complete the visit,” Chhay said.

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