Tourism operators take on Apsara

Tourism operators take on Apsara

Seek changes to multiday pass system that would allow nonconsecutive access to Angkor Wat

Siem Reap
SIEM Reap's tourism business proprietors are quietly building muscle to have a head-on with the Apsara Authority over its rigid ticketing system, which is seen as bad for business.

Apsara Authority, the body in charge of managing Angkor monuments,  charges US$20 for a one-day pass and $40 for a three-day pass. But the three days must be consecutive - no exceptions.

After two days at the ruins, many "templed out" tourists don't return for the third day of their pass, thus cancelling the financial benefit of the deal anyway. But a slight modification to the pass that makes it valid for three nonconsecutive days could result in an upswing of temple visit, and persuade tourists to extend their stay.

No consecutive passes

Frustrated guesthouse owners, who say a nonconsecutive, multiday temple pass will boost the length of tourist bookings, are planning to petition Apsara. They point out that their complaint isn't about the price of tickets, just the rigidity of the three-day consecutive package.

One guesthouse owner told the Post: "To be honest, the ticket price is now very good value for money. I don't know how these prices have been in place, but I've been here since 1996 and the cost of the tickets was the same back then."

The business owners also want to lobby members of Cambodia's travel industry, the Tourism Working Group, who met with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon last Thursday to look at dropping travellers' charges in a bid to stimulate the flagging tourism sector.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Tourism Working Group and head of the Steering Committee of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, last Thursday told the Post it was time for the government to act to halt the tourism downturn.

"We [the private sector] cannot do this on our own, so the government has to cooperate with us ... to reduce the price of tourist visas, passenger service charges and entry fees at tourism sites," he said.

Tourists agree

Representatives from Apsara Authority were unable to comment, but the Post surveyed tourists to see what they thought of the issue, and they all welcomed the suggestion.

Patrick Ahern, from Sheffield, England, said he supported the idea of a nonconsecutive pass. "It's an excellent idea. I was there today, and I would have bought a three-day pass but I ended up getting a one-day pass because having to do the three days in a row is too tiring."

Chelsea Lotts, a Liverpudlian, agrees. "I think it's a really good idea because three days in a row can be overkill. It'd be good to take a day off in between to rest or do other things."

David Hammerton of the UK said, "It would be much better if the ticket was more flexible because then you have time to see other sights around Siem Reap. You get a bit templed out doing them all at once."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JESSIE BEARD

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