A total of 344,757 standard tickets for Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park were sold to foreign visitors in the first five months of 2023, amounting to $16,065,829, available in one-day, three-day and seven-day passes, Angkor Enterprise reported.

This marks 653.09 per cent and 765.42 per cent year-on-year increases in terms of the quantity and value of tickets sold, but 71.42 per cent and 70.79 per cent decreases from the 1,206,188 tickets worth $54,993,391 logged in the same time of record-breaking 2018, according to statistics from the state-owned enterprise in charge of Angkor income management.

Last month alone, 45,759 of these tickets were sold for $2,034,623, up 263.92 per cent and up 303.84 per cent in terms of number and value compared to May 2022, but down 26.97 per cent and 29.74 per cent against April 2023, as well as down 70.52 per cent and down 69.80 per cent versus the 155,196 tickets worth $6,738,072 registered in May 2018.

The Angkor Enterprise website currently displays the prices of one-day, three-day and seven-day tickets for the main park area – which contains Angkor Wat – as $37, $62 and $72.

The enterprise also reported earnings from ticket sales for the Koh Ker area and Chong Kneas Tourist Port to the tune of $89,070 and $261,739 for the first five months of 2023.

Cambodians do not pay any of these entrance fees.

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

Angkor Tourist Guide Association president Khieu Thy told The Post on June 4 that the number of international visitors to Siem Reap province’s temples has been rather low thus far this year. He attributed this to the dismal state of the world economy coupled with fresh Covid-19 concerns.

He forecast a material improvement in the situation in the fourth quarter on the strength of a major uptick in foreign tourists to the Kingdom. Still, he remarked, a lot of local sightseers have been visiting the northwest province’s ancient temples as of late, especially during major holidays.

“Despite the fact that there are still only a few foreign tourists coming to Siem Reap, the provincial tourism sector has begun to rebound thanks to domestic travellers. Nevertheless, they’ll need to wait till the busy season at the end of the year to see a rise in the number of foreign visitors,” he said.

Thy remarked that compared to before 2020, when they dominated the market, Chinese mainlanders now account for a smaller proportion of foreign visitors to the Kingdom.

In a mid-May interview with The Post, Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan commented that, overall, fewer international tourists are travelling to the Kingdom than in pre-Covid times, and that the majority of them are from Asia, notably close-by countries.

At the moment, domestic tourists make up the majority of travel within the Kingdom, he noted, highlighting that although Angkor Enterprise’s figures considerably surpass those from a year ago, they pale in contrast to their pre-pandemic equivalents.

The tourism ministry reported that Cambodia received 2,276,626 international visitors last year, equivalent to a 65.56 per cent fall from the all-time high of 6,610,592 in 2019, but an 11.59-fold increase against 2021.

Thailand accounted for the bulk of these travellers at 853,376 which was up from 466,493 in 2019, followed by Vietnam (463,995; down from 908,803 in 2019) and mainland China (106,875; down from 2,361,849 in 2019).

The Kingdom welcomed 1,291,539 international visitors in the first three months of 2023 – down 31.22 per cent from the same period in 2019 – and Thailand took the lead with 424,241, followed by Vietnam (207,527), mainland China (132,665), Laos (61,709), the US (54,672), South Korea (52,578), France (33,442), Russia (32,125), the UK (31,057) and Indonesia (30,522).

Historical data from 2004-2019 indicate that the first quarter accounted for an average of 27.6092 per cent of the total number of international visitors for the entire year, giving a rough estimate of 4.678 million for the full-year 2023 figure, which is higher than the ministry’s forecast of four million.

It is worth mentioning that none of the predicted gains from the post-Covid recovery, “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign, or Southeast Asian (SEA) Games or related events slated for May or June are taken into account in this assessment.