Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia continues to generate the bulk of tourism revenue for the country from its ticket sales, despite a hike in admission fee, as foreigners marvel at the iconic temple.
Local authorities managing the temple complex forecast the figures could touch US$117mil (RM491) by year end, with about 2.6 million foreigners visiting the Angkor Wat, located in Siem Reap.
The temple complex remains the top tourist dollar earner in Cambodia compared to two other famous world heritage sites – Preah Vihear Temple located in Preah Vihear province and the Sambor Prei Kuk Archaeological Site in Kampong Thom province.
“There was a 7% growth in tourist arrivals this year and visitors from 193 countries visited the temple and 43% of the total tourists are from China.
“Foreigners still come to see the temple heritage and during peak periods the place is packed. It is even hard to book hotel rooms,” Angkor Enterprise executive director Ly Se said.
In February 2017, authorities raised the admission fees for foreign visitors to the Unesco world heritage complex to US$37 (RM155) for a single-day entry, US$62 (RM260) for a three-day ticket and US$72 (RM302) for a week-long visit.
Previously, the fees were US$20 (RM84), US$40 (RM168) and US$60 (RM252) respectively.
While tourist dollars continue to flow, policy makers are working on strategies to woo more foreigners as regional tourism is becoming competitive and neighbouring countries such as Thailand, and emerging Indonesia and the Philippines are aggressively promoting their own tourism products to earn tourism revenue.
Tourist arrivals at the iconic temple showed a sign of dip in 2018 to about 7% , compared to 12% growth in 2017.
“It is very difficult for us to maintain a double digit growth every year, people are coming to visit the temple and its unlike going for shopping in places like Singapore or Malaysia. We need to expect new arrivals and have to build more infrastructure,” he added.
Authorities are turning to the power of technology, especially for the sale of entry tickets to the temple and to sustain a steady flow of tourists every year.
Se said the management is trying to ease ticket sales to Angkor Wat, by allowing hotels to sell and also promote online bookings, and test-runs are being carried out before these systems can be fully implemented.
At present, tourists need to purchase their tickets at the Angkor Enterprise complex in Siem Reap, about 5km drive from the temple site, which can be cumbersome as counters could be packed during peak season.
The government is also implementing the Tourism Development Strategic Master Plan 2012 to 2020 to develop the industry in provinces and cities, and attract more investments to improve infrastructure and create new tourism products. – The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network