Angkor Wat visitors rise after Cambodian government takes over ticket sales

By The Phnom Penh Post   April 6, 2016 | 12:40 am PT
Angkor Wat ticket sales generated $20 million in revenue during the first three months of this year, a 2.5 percent increase over the same period in 2015, while the amount of visitors increased by 1.7 percent, according to data released yesterday by Cambodia's Apsara Authority.

Chao Sun Kerya, a spokesperson for Apsara, said that while more people are flocking to the ancient attraction, predicting sales during the coming months was troublesome.

“We are very happy to see the rise in revenue as more people get to know about Angkor Wat, but we will wait to see the trend in the next few months when the weather is very hot,” she said.

Yesterday’s release marked the first quarterly disclosure of ticket sales since the government stripped the politically connected Sokimex Group – owned by tycoon Sok Kong who held rights over sales for the last 17 years – from managing the archaeological park.

The government has denied the move was politically motivated, arguing that it aimed at boosting the state’s share of revenue.

Ticket sales are now co-managed by the Angkor Institution, a state-run collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Kerya said no complaints have been about the service since the government took over ticket sales on January 1, and the transition has been smooth.

She said the Angkor Institution continues to employ the majority of Sokimex staff.

Last month, travel-planning website TripAdvisor ranked Siem Reap as the top destination in Asia and fifth-best travel destination worldwide in its annual Traveller’s Choice Destination awards.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the popular online site’s recognition has contributed to a palpable increase in ticket sales.

However, he declined to share his opinion on the effectiveness of the state-run ticket office.

“I think it is too early to comment about whether the state-run group is more effective than the private company, but let’s wait and see,” he said.

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