Computerized Cards to Debut at Angkor Wat

Tourists visiting the Angkor complex in Siem Reap will soon have to swipe their tickets through a computer scanner to gain entrance to the park.

The move, meant to beef up security, is part of an ongoing effort to improve services at the 11th-century temple complex, said Sok Kong, president of the gasoline company Sokimex, which runs the park in partnership with the government’s Apsara Authority.

The new computerized system will make it harder for ticket collectors and visitors to enter the compound fraudulently, Sok Kong said. It will make it easier to collect data about visitor numbers and reduce delays at the gate. Waiting times should be down to “less than a minute,” Sok Kong said.

Last year Sokimex began re­quiring visitors to carry tickets with photo identifications in an effort to reduce fraud in the lucrative ticket trade. The company claimed visitors with multiple-entry tickets were passing on their tickets to motortaxi drivers or other tourists who used them to gain admission illegitimately.

Under the new deal, Sokimex will permit tour operators to buy tickets in advance, a practice not previously allowed.

Tour operators, who first fear­ed the changes would confuse tourists, said they now welcome the move. However, they complained that they should be offered discounts for buying tickets in bulk.

Chung Chan Sophea, president of Apsara Tours in Phnom Penh, said tour operators were given a 5 percent discount before Sokimex took over management of the site. She would like to see that discount reinstated.

Sok Kong said there are no plans to reintroduce discounts.

Foreigners pay $20 a day or $40 for three days to visit the site. Cambodian citizens are admitted free. The Apsara Authority gets 70 percent of revenue, which is to be used for maintaining the temples. Sokimex takes the rest.

The number of tourists visiting the temples doubled between 1999 and 2000, according to government officials, with about $3 million in ticket sales being recorded for 1999. That figure was more than triple the sales of tickets in 1998.


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