Foreign Visitor Numbers to Angkor Record Rare Decline

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Visitors at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province (VOD)
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The number of foreign tourists visiting Angkor Archaeological Park fell 7 percent in the first five months of the year compared to the same period a year ago, according to the park’s operator.

An Angkor Enterprise report says 1.1 million tourists visited the historical site from January through May, generating ticket revenues of $50.3 million. The figures were down 7.3 and 8.5 percent compared to the five-month period from a year ago, the June 2 report says.

Hok Seng, an officer at Angkor Enterprise, said it was the first drop in foreign visitor numbers since the state-run enterprise took over ticket sales from businessman Sok Kong’s Sokimex Group in 2016.

Cambodians are allowed free entry to the site.

Tourism Ministry undersecretary of state Top Sopheak said the decline could be attributed to a rise in the popularity of other tourist destinations around Cambodia. There was no drop in total visitor numbers for the country, he said.

“There is a bit of a decrease in Siem Reap but there is increase in coastal areas and in the northeast … like Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri for ecotourism,” Sopheak said. “The tourist flow is turning. It cannot stay in the same place.”

However, Chhay Siv Lin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said Cambodia needed more cheaper flights into the country to compete with its neighbors.

“If we look at our neighboring countries … their packages seems to be cheaper than our packages, and they also have new destinations,” Siv Lin said, urging the government to find ways to increase the total number of tourists.

According to a Tourism Ministry report from January, the number of Chinese visitors surged 70 percent to 2 million out of a total of 6.2 million tourists in 2018.

Total tourists rose just 11 percent, however, suggesting non-Chinese visitors declined for the year by roughly 200,000.

Recent Chinese-led tourism developments have focused on the coastal city of Sihanoukville, which has seen a torrid construction boom centered around casinos and gambling.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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