As part of the Phnom Penh municipality's ongoing beautification program, entry fees will go up to fund improvements at the site
Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Phnom Penh's Wat Phnom in a file photo.
THE entry fee for Wat Phnom, the hill from which Cambodia's capital draws its name, will double for foreign visitors from January next year, officials say, adding that Cambodian citizens will still be able to enter the pagoda for free.
According to Oeur Ponnaka, deputy director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Culture, the entry charge will go up to US$2 on January 1.
The increase in the ticket price is part of the municipality's effort to beautify Wat Phnom's surroundings "like the construction of Naga Bridge, the Grandmother Penh statue, and a kids' playground", Oeur Ponnaka said, referring to recent renovations to the area.
He added that Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema will issue a letter informing all travel agents about the price increase later this year.
"The additional money will also help to support the 24 cleaners and 30 security guards working around the historic monument," he said. "At the moment their normal salary is only 150,000 riels (US$37.50) per month."
Improving tourist facilities
The plan to increase entrance fees comes after a meeting Tuesday between municipal officials and travel agents to discuss managing the popular tourist attraction.
Ang Kim Eang, treasurer of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA) who joined the meeting, said that while he does not mind the price increase, the extra money should be used to improve tourist facilities around the pagoda.
"To attract more tourists and stop them from complaining about the price, City Hall should think of hiring a small traditional music band, opening more souvenir shops, and eliminating beggars and bag snatchers [from the area]," he said.
Tourist facilities around the wat will need to be improved.
Tammy Smith, a visitor from England, said the US$1 entrance fee to Wat Phnom was an "OK price" for a tourist but that other foreigners may reconsider visiting the pagoda if the ticket price is increased.
"Tourist facilities around the Wat will need to be improved," she said.
Oeur Ponnaka said the municipality has already improved some tourist attractions around the city and will continue the scheme.