The Svay Leu district administration in Siem Reap province has clarified that it does not require Cambodians to pay an admission fee at Preah Chey Varaman-Norodom National Park in Kulen Mountain, while foreigners are charged $20 per day to visit the park.

In a July 31 notice, the administration denied claims circulating on social media that Cambodians had been made to pay the admission charge.

It explained that Nokor Kork Thlok Co Ltd obtained the rights to administer the national park in 1998. In 2016, the government adjusted the investment conditions by ruling that Cambodian citizens would not pay admission fees.

“For Cambodians, there is no entrance fee. The company running the park is entitled to charge for parking in the area in order to maintain security and public order, and carry out improvements including environmental and sanitation work,” it added.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, said that only foreigners are supposed to pay for access to the park, noting that he had heard rumours of Cambodians being charged in recent times but was unsure of their veracity.

“There are three main drawcards that attract visitors to Kulen Mountain – cultural heritage, a clean environment and historical sites. These three aspects are not particularly well maintained, so I don’t believe admission should be charged. The access road is also in poor condition,” he said.

According to research conducted by a Ministry of Environment team, led by Lim Vanchan and Sakhoeun Sakda, the national park, located in Khnong Phnom commune’s Anlong Thom village, plays an important role in maintaining the environmental balance of the Angkor area owing to rich natural resources such as forests, water sources and biodiversity.

The ministry said the park is also home to many examples of the Kingdom’s tangible cultural heritage, such as ancient temples and other sites of historical significance for Cambodia. This includes 71 temples, 56 peungs sites (an overhang of rock on a mountain or hill) and 28 other significant archaeological sites.