To protect Angkor Wat from further damage, tourists will now have to buy special slippers to climb the temple’s stairs, the Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Archaeological Park, announced Sunday.
“We are preparing this project,” said Tep Henn, Apsara Authority deputy director-general in charge of tourism. “We will let experts do studies of all sides.”
Tep Henn said he did not know when the slipper program will begin, how much the slippers will cost visitors or which company will receive the contract to make the slippers.
Bun Narith, the authority’s director general, confirmed the slipper project on Sunday but said further studies were still necessary.
“We need to study first whether it can be worked out or not,” he said.
Moeung Sonn, director of the National Association of Tourism Enterprises, said that the slippers should be offered free of charge to visitors because entrance tickets to Angkor are already expensive.
“Tourists are not happy with this policy,” said Moeung Sonn, who is also vice-president of the Siem Reap Chamber of Commerce. “It is good if the government can preserve Angkor from erosion without additional fees.”
Moeung Sonn claimed that a contract to make the slippers had already been awarded to a company.
Minister of Tourism Lay Prohas said Sunday that he had not heard of the Angkor slipper project.
The special slipper would mark the second proposed fee increase at Angkor in recent months.
The Apsara Authority in May announced a $3 entrance fee increase. The price hike was to take effect June 1 but was rescinded at the last minute due to unspecified “technical difficulties.”
The authority originally said the $3 increase was necessary to cover the costs of a “free” guidebook for tourists.
The book has been widely criticized by tourism industry officials as unnecessary, especially because it is written only in English and other guides are already widely available.