PHNOM PENH, 4 September 2019: Visits to Cambodia’s fabled Angkor Wat dropped 11% according to the state-owned Angkor Enterprises’ latest financial update.
The UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Archaeological Park, sold tickets to 1.55 million foreigners during the first eight months of the year, the agency reported to local media at the weekend.
The gate revenue is an accurate measure of tourism flow to Siem Reap town and its close neighbour Angkor Wat and the historical park.
The Angkor Enterprise’s statement added that the park made gross revenue of USD69.4 million from ticket sales to foreigners visiting the park during the first eight months, a decrease of 11.8%.
In August alone, the park received 158,124 foreign visitors earning USD7.15 million from ticket sales, down 21.6%.
China, the United States, and South Korea remain the largest sources of foreign arrivals to the park according to report in Xinhua.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon pins the blame on outside forces such as the so-called “zero-dollar” tour companies. He has vowed to take action against the culprits, mainly Chinese companies.
They sell tours at cost or even below cost and their local partners pick up earnings from charging commissions on tours, sightseeing, meals, hotels and shopping. Commissions paid in cash to the local agents representing Chinese companies can be as high as 40%. The Chinese and Cambodian partners share the tax-free cash pickings.
But there are other reasons for the dip in gate revenue at the historical park. Fees are high, the trade war between the US and China is slowing tourism growth, and fewer Europeans are visiting the region.
Tickets prices increased two years ago, and this coincided with a steady decline in tourist arrivals.
Since February 2017, the price for a one-day ticket to visit the Angkor rose from USD20 to USD37 dollars; a three-day pass increased from USD40 to USD62 and a seven-day ticket from USD60 dollars to USD72.
(Source: Xinhua plus additional reporting)