Tourism experts have warned that the increasing cost of entrance to the country’s top tourism destination, the Angkor Wat Archeological Park, could see visitor numbers decline.
On Friday, The Angkor Institution, the agency that manages ticketing at the world-renowned site, said it planned to almost double the entrance fees or foreigners making one-day visits to the ancient temple complex near the backpacker town of Siem Reap.
Beginning in February, one-day tickets will cost $37, the agency announced, while three-day tickets will rise from $40 to $62 and week-long passes will rise from $60 to $72. It said that $2 from each ticket sold would be donated to a local children’s hospital.
The government took over control of ticketing at the site from private contractor Sokimex in November and set up The Angkor Agency to manage sales.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the National Tourism Alliance, said the price hike would put off international visitors.
“If the price of goods in a market increases it will affect consumption,” he said.
“Sometimes the loss is not felt directly, but it will still affect customers or people who work in the industry.”
He added that tourism association members would meet with government officials to discuss the changes.
Khieu Thy, president of the Angkor Tour Guide Association, said the new pricing could make Cambodia less competitive.
“Neighboring countries are trying to lower their process and even give visa exemptions … while Cambodia has no attractive services, and now we are increasing the price. This further limits how competitive we are and will cause criticism from visitors,” he said.
Hok Seng, a spokesman for The Angkor Institution, said he did not know the reasons behind the increase in prices as the agency had no real decision-making power.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon could not be reached; however, he told local media that the changes were in-line with inflation.