It was the fear of inbound tour operators working in Cambodia. Last February, the government decided to raise the fee for foreign travellers visiting the famed Angkor Wat temples. Starting February 1, 2017, the cost of the one-day pass increased to US$37 from previously US$20, the three-day pass jumped from US$40 to US$62, while the price of a week-long visit pass – valid over a one-month period –was set at US$72, instead of US$60.
it has only been two months since the increase went into effect and -although Cambodia is entering into the low season- the feared negative impact on visitors’ attendance did not materialize. Cambodia’s main English-speaking newspaper, ‘The Phnom Penh Post’ reported that they were no signs of a slowdown in activity although the increase failed to materialize into any significant gain in revenues.
According to figures released last week by the Angkor Enterprise, the state-run ticketing agency for Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, ticket sales to the World Heritage site near Siem Reap reached 701,358 during the first quarter of the year repreenting an increase from a year before. Revenue however rose only by 1.7% despite the hike, to reach $20.3 million.
Talking to the newspaper, Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Travel Agent Association (CATA), said that she had not seen any marketable change in visitor trends so far. “We were worried that if we changed our prices too fast, tourists would not go to the temples,” she declared over the week end.
However, it might be to early to evaluate the true impact of the increase over visitors attendance. Many tour operators -which had already published their package prices last year- decided not to fully pass on the increase on customers.
“Discounts on package deals offered by tour agencies might have delayed the impact of the ticket-price hikes. Maybe revenue will speed up in the next quarter,as we since adjusted our tour package pricing,” Sivlin explained to the Phnom Penh Post.
In 2016, ticket sales topped 2.2 million, up by 4.2% over 2015 representing total revenues of nearly US$63.6 million.