Entry fees to the Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap province will be raised next month, according to the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
Tep Henn, deputy director-general in charge of tourism at the Apsara Authority, said Wednesday that ticket prices for foreigners will increase by $3 starting on June 1.
A one-day pass will cost $23, up from the current price of $20; a three-day pass will cost $43, up from $40; and a one-week pass will increase to $63 from $60. Cambodian nationals will continue to be allowed entry without charge.
The mandatory $3 price hike helps pay for a “free Cambodia guidebook for tourism and investment,” Tep Henn said.
The 150-page guidebook, however, will only be available in English, he said. It will explain Cambodia’s history and provide tourist information and explanations of the country’s investment laws, he said. It will also detail “what Cambodia has achieved” over the past 10 years, he added.
“It is a preparation to make tourists informed about Cambodia’s potentials,” Tep Henn said. He added that this will be the first price increase since the government handed over the right to sell entry tickets to Angkor to the Sokimex petroleum company in 1999.
A copy of the guidebook was not available for review on Wednesday.
The $3 price increase is going ahead without the consultation of the Ministry of Tourism, according to Tourism Minister Lay Prohas.
Lay Prohas said Wednesday that he was not aware of the planned increase, and that the Apsara Authority never invited his ministry to discuss the ticket price jump.
“We must respect this recommendation because [we have] no choice,” Lay Prohas said. But, he added that if it had been consulted, “the Ministry of Tourism would say it should not increase the fee.”
He said that Prime Minister Hun Sen aimed to lower prices to attract more tourists, not raise them.
“It is against Samdech Hun Sen’s policy to reduce [the price] of tour packages,” Lay Prohas said. “But [instead] they add [fees to] the tour packages.”
Travel agents decried the fee increase on Wednesday, agreeing that the move will do nothing to draw visitors to Cambodia.
Moeung Sonn, managing director of Eurasie Travel, said he already receives complaints from tourists about the expenses of traveling in Cambodia.
“Everything in Cambodia is more expensive than in neighboring countries,” he said Wednesday, adding that he is worried airport taxes and other fees will also rise in the near future.
Tourists normally read guide books already before coming to Cambodia, he said, and mandatory payment for yet another guide book from the Apsara Authority is unnecessary.
“It is a tactic to make profit,” he said.
Tep Henn, however, said the $3 is a small price to pay, and would not deter tourists from visiting the ancient temples.
“Foreigners always make a lot of income, so there is nothing to worry about,” he said. “The $3 will go to the state.”
In 2003 alone, revenues from ticket sales at Angkor reached $9.4 million, with 321,557 tickets sold. The government took 75 percent of the figure, while Sokimex and the Apsara Authority pocketed the remainder.