Angkor Park Reports Nearly 2% Rise in Foreign Visitors in 2014

Nearly 2.4 million foreign tourists visited Siem Reap province last year, with about 2 million of them visiting Angkor Archaeological Park, both slight increases on 2013, according to figures released Tuesday.

The Apsara Authority, which manages the park, said in a statement that 2,059,702 foreigners visited the park last year—up 1.9 percent on 2013—out of the 2,350,937 who went to Siem Reap, generating $59.34 million in revenue from ticket sales.

The authority says 2,021,715 foreigners visited the complex in 2013, out of the 2,237,286 who went to Siem Reap, bringing in $57.68 million in revenue.

The release notes that about 2.7 million domestic tourists—who do not pay to enter the park—visited Siem Reap last year, up 22 percent on 2013. It does not explain how domestic tourists were counted.

Ticket sales for Angkor Wat, which are overseen by a firm owned by well-connected businessman Sok Kong, have become a political issue in recent months with opposition lawmaker Son Chhay claiming massive embezzlement.

Mr. Chhay has challenged the official sales figures, claiming about 5 million tourists visit Cambodia each year and arguing that it defied credibility for the government to claim that only 2 million of them toured Angkor park. He could not be reached Tuesday.

Ho Vandy, co-president of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group, attributed the meager increase in arrivals at Cambodia’s main tourist draw to political upheaval in the country and high-profile plane crashes abroad.

“Political events in our country that took place after the election and chaos in the airline industry, which saw planes missing or falling after being shot, scared tourists out of traveling,” Mr. Vandy said.

“There will be an increase in the number of tourists visiting our country if there is harmony in our politics and there are no natural disasters,” he added.

Cambodia Hotel Association president Luu Meng said the dilapidated state of National Road 6A, the most direct route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, was also limiting tourism to the province.

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