Tourism businesses have said that a doubling of the price of entrance for foreign visitors to the Angkor Wat temple complex will not hurt the industry.
The Cambodian government announced the fee hike in August. Visitors will soon pay $37 for a day ticket, up from $20, while a three-day ticket rose from $40 to $62 and at the entrance fee for a week rose from $60 to $72.
Chhay Sivlin, president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the “sharp” increase would cause an initial shock, but the price remained acceptable compared with neighboring countries.
However, she said the government should use the extra funds for investment to boost the industry and infrastructure.
“Their infrastructure and safety [for tourists] is better. But we hope that after the government increase the price, they will have some budget to build infrastructure for tourism industry about the same as in other countries,” she said.
For future price increases, she suggested a longer notification period and an incremental price rise.
Thourn Sinan, president of the Cambodia Tourism Federation, said arrival numbers would not be affected.
“When we sell the tickets at $20, that’s too cheap. It’s not even equal to the price to enter an artificial play park in neighboring countries. But the way that the government increased the price does not fit with the circumstances,” he said.
Sinan added that there are hundreds of temples within the Angkor park and it takes time to visit them all. He suggested to break up the park into smaller areas and set ticket prices so that visitors can choose where they want to visit.
Ly Se, president of the Angkor Institution, a government body that manages ticketing at the world-renowned site, said the government had delayed the price hike many times before.
“So we didn’t just [sharply] increase it. We did a survey and gave reasonable time. We informed people six months ahead. We [also] left months for consultation,” he said.
Se added that the institution together with the Apsara Authority has plans for better infrastructure and services in the industry, but did not elaborate.
According to a report from the Angkor Institution, 2.19 million international tourists bought tickets to visit Angkor Wat last year, a 4.5 percent increase compared to the same period in 2015, while the income from the tickets reached $62.5 million, a 4.21 percent increase compared to 2015.
The income from the tickets is expected to reach $100 million with the new price structure.