Official figures released yesterday showed that over 2 million tickets were sold to foreigners visiting the ruins of ancient Angkor last year, netting almost $60 million dollars. However, the data remains bitterly disputed by members of Cambodia’s opposition party.
Total income increased from $57.6 million in 2013 to $59.3 million last year, according to data from Apsara Authority, which manages Angkor.
But despite increasing revenues, some have argued the income does not reflect the “real” number of tourists entering the complex.
Siem Reap province received 5.02 million visitors last year, including 2.35 million foreign visitors.
However, according to the new figures, only 2.05 million bought tickets to tour Angkor.
Long Kosal, Apsara’s deputy director of the communication department, defended the accuracy of the figures.
“There are estimates that 5 million foreign tourists visited Angkor, or 3 million, but actually the exact number is only 2.05 million this year, a rise from 2.02 million in 2013,” he said referring to alternative figures given by opposition party lawmaker Son Chhhay last month.
The tourist arrival numbers in Siem Reap province is sourced from the provincial Tourism Department, he said, adding that the figures were vetted by experts from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
But opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Yem Ponhearith said yesterday the revenue was lower than it should be.
“If we divide $59 million with 2.35 million visitors, then we see one visitor is only close to $30,” said Ponhearith.
Tourist passes to Angkor, which is free for Cambodians, are priced at $20 for one day, $40 for three, and $60 for a week.
“Foreign visitors come all the way to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat and the tour cannot be completed in one day. They have to spend from 3 to 7 days to complete the touring,” he said.
Ponhearith urged Apsara and Sokimex to be more transparent.
“Apsara Authority should allow an independent team to count the number of foreign tourists along with the company and they should show the contract to the public,” he said.