Official greed and corruption are probably at the roots of this admission increase. Replacing one 'owner' or controller [Sok Kong] with someone else or another group of people is unlikely to make qualitative/quantitative difference to the amount of revenue generated off tourism in Siem Reap or any where else as long as a few individuals are in a position to make all the executive decisions and no one else is allowed to audit or scrutinise those decisions and their outcomes.
The wiser approach should be to increase the fees incrementally in small doses over a period - say five years - and see how the numbers of tourists visiting the sites or coming in to the country over the same period respond to such increases. The annual visitor data could then be used to adjust the amount of the fees accordingly without harming the overall flow of tourism earnings.
Over the long run, mass tourism will more than pay for itself in terms of boosting the local economy through improved social amenities and lifestyle for both the local people and the travelers alike. One of the reasons why foreign tourists have been flocking to the country is because it is perceived to be among the cheapest destinations still, and not just because of Angkor Wat, though of course, it helps to have this as the central highlight and flagship in the tourist brochure.
The admission fees for the Angkor archaeological park are still relatively cheap when compared to how much visitors have to pay to visit similar cultural sites around the world. Yet, it might be to the country's long term benefit to keep these entrance charges as low as possible to encourage visitors to come visit it and spend their dollars, euros and yens...on various kinds of locally provided goods and services. The costs of domestic transportation also should be kept affordable and inexpensive. Some advanced countries even issue free public transport passes to travelers for their period of stay. This is not so much because these nations are advanced economically and are thus able to be 'generous' to foreign visitors, but rather because they see sense in redistributing the general benefits that are derived from mass tourism in the first place. Bear in mind too that most tourists are normal hard-working folk or retired people who plan their trips within the limits of a given budget for whom the cost of a long haul flight to reach Cambodia will have already stretched those limits!
Tourists queue at a ticket booth to purchase Angkor Wat Archeological Park passes in Siem Reap province earlier this year. Thik Kaliyann
Angkor Wat ticket price hike could hurt visitor numbers: experts
Mon, 8 August 2016 ppp
Tourism experts say the government’s decision to hike entrance fees to the Kingdom’s top tourist attraction could see visitor numbers dwindle, and have issued calls for greater transparency and accountability in how the ticket revenue will be used.
The Angkor Institution, the ad hoc agency that manages ticketing for Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, announced on Friday that it would nearly double the entrance fee that foreigners must pay for one-day visits to the ancient temple complex near Siem Reap. Starting February 1, 2017, the cost of the one-day pass will increase to $37, from the current $20, it said.
Ticket prices will also rise for a three-day pass to $62, from the current $40, while a week-long visit pass – valid over a one-month period – will cost $72, from the current $60.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, blasted the Angkor Institution for failing to adequately explain the steep ticket price increase to tourism industry stakeholders.
“I was shocked by the price increase,” he said yesterday. “Why did we raise the ticket price to such a high level like this?”
He said tour operators need an explanation so that they can pass it along to their marketing partners and foreign tourists contemplating a visit to Cambodia.
Luu Meng, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said if the government plans to double the ticket price for Angkor Wat, it should provide a solid justification for doing so, as well as an action plan on how it will improve the site and its tourism services.
“When price goes up like this it affects visitors’ feelings, so we need to show them the quality products and services they will receive from the increased price,” he said. “For instance, we should give them a reason, like we will guarantee to provide better hygiene at the site and remove all the rubbish along the entrance roads.”
The government took over control of ticket sales to the Angkor-era site from private contractor Sokimex last November and established the Angkor Institution to manage ticket sales.
Ticket sales during the first six months of the year topped $31 million, a 1.7 per cent year-on-year increase, while the number of foreign visitors increased 0.7 per cent year-on-year during the period to about 1.1 million.
A statement issued by the Angkor Institution on Friday gave no explanation for the sharp increase in ticket prices or the expected impact on tourism. However, it said $2 from each ticket sold would be donated to Kantha Bopha, a Swiss-owned children’s hospital that provides free treatment.
An official at the Angkor Institution, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press, said single-day passes account for about 60 per cent of all tickets sold to Angkor Wat. Another 30 per cent are three-day passes, while the remaining 10 per cent are week-long passes.
Officials at the ministries of tourism and economy – the two top-line ministries responsible for determining the site’s ticket prices – could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
Chao Sun Keriya, spokesman for the Apsara Authority, the government agency responsible for managing the nation’s antiquities sites, said yesterday she was not involved in or aware of discussions concerning a rise in ticket prices.
“I know nothing about that,” she said. “I just heard about it from local media as well.”
Son Chhay, lawmaker of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the sharp rise in ticket prices could turn off some visitors. He said if the goal was to increase revenue, the government would do better strengthening the transparency of ticket sales than increasing fees.
“I think it’s the wrong decision because we must not increase the price, but rather lower it,” he said, stressing the importance of tourism to Cambodia’s economic development.
Discussions on online forums were divided over the potential impact of the revised one-day ticket price, with some commentators arguing that Angkor Wat’s visitor fees were relatively underpriced compared to other UN World Heritage sites, while others insisted the spike in ticket prices would discourage visits and damage Siem Reap’s local economy.
The revised one-day ticket price of $37 for Angkor Wat puts its entrance fee at par with that of Peru’s Machu Picchu, and about half the cost of Petra in Jordan. However, the new fee is nearly twice that of Indonesia’s Borobudur, four times the official cost of site entrance to the Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, and five times the entry fee for sections of the Great Wall of China.
Sa Sarin, secretary-general of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said he did not expect the revised ticket price to have a serious impact on the number of foreign visitors to Angkor Wat.
“Angkor Wat is a World Heritage site, so visitors will still want to see it,” he said.