Mediocre Growth in Total Number of Visitors at Angkor Wat in 2016

Visits to Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia increased 4.2 percent to just under 2.2 million last year, the government body managing ticket sales to the historical temple sites near Siem Reap City announced on Monday. The total number of visitors is tracking total foreign tourist arrivals to Siem Reap/Angkor. From January to October 2016 (latest available data from the Ministry of Tourism), the Ministry recorded 1.17 million foreign visitors, up by 4.6% over the same period of 2015.

However, looking over a period of five years, Siem Reap is losing market shares to the advantage of Phnom Penh and the coast while total arrivals to the destination remain stagnant. From 2012 to 2016, foreign tourist arrivals to Siem Reap went up by 11.6%, representing, an average growth of 2.3% per annum. Siem Reap/Angkor market share in total foreign arrivals to the Kingdom is down from 57.6% to 38.5% for the period between January and October 2016.

2016 average performance is raising concerns among tourism professionals as the managing company of Angkor Wat complex plans to raise ticket prices from February 1 by 85% for a one-day ticket, 55% for a three-day pass and 20% for a week-long pass.  The impending ticket price hike could derail visits to the archeological complex as most of the tickets sold to foreign visitors are one-day passes.

New prices will be as follows: one-day ticket will go from US$20 to US$37; three-day tickets from US$40 to US$62 and week-long tickets from US$60 to US$72.

Angkor-Siem Reap total foreign tourist arrivals 2012-2016
Angkor-Siem Reap total foreign tourist arrivals 2012-2016

Last August, Angkor Enterprise, a State entity created in 2015 to take over ticket sales from private group Sokimex (which runs the monopoly of petrole sales in Cambodia), announced in August to raise ticket prices. It announced that last year, total revenues from ticket sales reached US$62.5 million.

Talking to the Phnom Penh Post, Hor Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said members of the group feared the hike could hurt fragile tourism growth. “The private sector in the industry submitted a letter requesting the government to delay the price increase or increase it less,” he explained to the newspaper.

The hike could however help indirectly to fullfill the vision of the Cambodian government to diversify visits to the Kingdom. Recently, in a Report over Cambodia’s economic outlook, the institution expressed its concern over the slowing growth in tourist arrivals, due to the dominance of Angkor Wat in the country’s tourism development. teh World Bank emphasized strongly to diversify tourist attractions to keep travellers longer and above all, to encourage them to come back…