The Cambodian government officially took charge of the ticket sales at the Angkor Archeological Park on January 1, after Prime Minster Hun Sen announced in November an end to the Sok Kong-owned Sokimex’s control of the service.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon told the Post that a new inter-ministerial body, controlled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and Tourism Ministry, was already in place to take over ticketing services, adding that a sub-decree to formally announce the change was expected shortly.
“Ministry of Economy and Finance has taken the job [of ticket sales] from Sokimex and the process is already under way,” he said “This new commission will supervise, control and check ticket sales.”
Since 1999, Sokimex, through its hospitality arm Sokha Hotels and Resorts, which runs hotels in Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, has sold tickets under a profit-share system with Apsara, led by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
Khon said the new body will continue the work of its predecessor and look to bring in reforms if any weak points are identified.
“We will just change the very top management,” the minister said. “Collections from ticket sales will be controlled by and go directly to the national treasury.”
Ho Vandy, adviser to Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said the transition should proceed smoothly, given that the new body will pick up from where Sokimex left off.
“The body will just continue to monitor the work and the MEF will manage this with cooperation from other ministries,” he said.
Sokimex’s control of the ticketing services at the country’s most famous landmark has long been plagued by accusations of irregularities. Son Chhay, a CNRP lawmaker and chief whip, led a fact-finding mission in December 2014 to investigate the reporting and use of funds from ticket sales at Angkor Wat.
While taking back ticket sales from Sokimex was a good move, Chhay said the government needed to strengthen its data collection and tourist reporting measures to ensure that collections went to state coffers.
“I believe it is better than before,” he said. “We will closely monitor the procedures and question the related ministries asking them for documents,” he added.
“But it is already a benefit because the money that used to go to Sok Kong has stopped.”