Temple Opened, But No Fees Waived on World Tourism Day

Cambodia’s first celebration of World Tourism Day on Sunday may have shown that Cambodia is safe—but certainly not free.

The government turned down a Tourism Ministry request to waive airport tax, visa and Angkor Wat temple ticket fees for visitors on World Tourism Day, Tourism Secretary of State Thong Khon said Sunday.

He said the decision had been made because it would be too difficult to refund tour groups who had already paid the fees

“It was too short notice,” said Thong Khon, adding that his ministry will try again next year.

Tourism officials also marked the day by officially opening Banteay Srei temple in Siem Reap province, roughly 25 km north of Angkor Wat.

The 10th century temple was declared safe for tourists early last year following the 1995 shooting death of a US tourist, allegedly in a Khmer Rouge ambush.

The one-hour ceremony Sun­day morning was held, in part, to show soldiers and travel agents that the outlying temple is officially part of the Ang­kor temple complex and ex­tra fees are not required to visit, tourism ministry officials said. Visitors to the Angkor temples are currently charged $20 for a day-pass.

Culture Mi­nister Nouth Nar­ang and provincial governor Toan Chay attended the ceremony, which included speeches and an Apsara dance performance.

“I’m happy to tell you the security is safe now, but the road is not so good,” Thong Khon told guests at the ceremony. “We will work on the road.”

But it may take some time for the news to get to the government’s lower levels. Several foreign tourists on Sunday visiting Banteay Srei during the ceremony said they still had to pay soldiers manning checkpoints on the road from Siem Reap.

“People don’t have to pay extra to soldiers,” Thong Khon said upon hea­ring that people were still being charged. “I will tell Toan Chay to tell the soldiers they can’t do it anymore.”

 

 

 

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