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Tourism as usual at Angkor Wat despite steeper fees

Tourists visit Angkor Wat.
Tourists visit Angkor Wat. Hong Menea

Tourism as usual at Angkor Wat despite steeper fees

The steep increase in Angkor Wat ticket prices on February 1 did not discourage tourists from visiting the country’s chief tourist draw, as some feared, but it also did not reap any significant material gains for the government coffers, new data shows.

Figures released on Saturday by the Angkor Enterprise, the state-run ticketing agency for Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, showed ticket sales to the World Heritage site near Siem Reap inched up to 701,358 during the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, revenue rose to $20.3 million, a mere 1.7 percent year-on-year increase despite price hikes that effectively doubled the cost of single-day admission.

Some tourism experts had expressed concern over the government’s decision to sharply increase the entrance price to Angkor Wat, arguing that it could prompt price-conscious foreign travellers to skip visiting the ancient temple complex and the country itself.

On February 1, the government raised the price of one-day “foreign visitor” admission to Angkor Wat to $37, from $20. Meanwhile, it increased the price of a three-day pass to $62, from $40, and a week-long pass to $72, from $60.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Travel Agent Association (CATA), said that she had not seen any marketable change in visitor trends so far.

“We were worried that if we changed our prices too fast, tourists would not go to the temples,” she said yesterday.

However, with only two full months on record since the change, she said it was still too early to tell whether the government had made the right decision, pointing out that discounts on package deals offered by tour agencies might have delayed the impact of the ticket-price hikes.

“Maybe revenue will speed up in the next quarter, because in the beginning the increased fees had made us adjust our tour package pricing,” Sivlin said.

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said it appeared as if the much-discussed price hike had yet to have any impact on both visitor rates and profitability.

“The growth of ticket revenue seems like nothing has changed for the sector based on our calculations, however it’s still the low season,” he said.

“Let’s wait and see over the next quarter whether the growth is still the same or not and then we can judge the impact of ticket price increase.”

The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park generated nearly $63.6 million in revenue last year with 2.2 million tickets sold, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to 2015.

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