Revenue from the sale of entrance tickets at the Unesco-listed Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap province rose by 72.5 percent in 2017, reaching $107.9 million.
Last month alone, ticket sales generated $12.3 million, a 71.9 percent increase compared with December 2016, with 267,000 foreign nationals visiting the complex.
With the growth in foreign visitors being only moderate – increasing by only 11.8 percent in 2017 – the rise in revenue is likely the result of a hike in ticket prices that came into effect in February.
Last year the government took over ticket sales from the Sokimex group. Shortly after, the body it created to manage the sales, the Angkor Institution, announced new prices, with one-day tickets rising from $20 to $37, three-day tickets from $40 to $62 and one-week tickets from $60 to $72.
The new prices include a $2 donation to the children’s hospitals in Cambodia of the Kantha Bopha Foundation. During the first 11 months of 2017, $4.3 million in donations were sent to the charitable organisation.
The price hike was the main cause of the increase in revenue, said Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, who also expressed concern over some negative side-effects of having raised prices, including a possible decrease in the number of days foreign travellers are spending in Siem Reap.
“Thanks to the new prices and certain initiatives by the government to promote the Angkor temple complex, revenue continues to grow,” Mr Vandy said.
Mr Vandy noted, however, that an increasing number of businesspeople in the hospitality industry have brought to their attention that tourists are, in general, staying shorter periods of time in the kingdom.
“Businesses in the sector are reporting that tourists are shortening their trips in Cambodia,” he said. “While this is worrying, we cannot conclude it is a result of the price hike at the Angkor complex.”
In the beginning of 2017, some tour operators expressed concern over a possible slowdown in arrivals of foreign visitors to the Angkor area and Cambodia in general as a result of the hike in ticket prices.
The concerns followed the release of a report by the Ministry of Economy and Finance in January showing that the growth rate of foreign tourists to the country decreased from 17.5 percent in 2013 to six percent in 2016.
Last year, ticket sales at the Angkor complex generated $62.5 million, a 4.21 percent increase compared with 2015. In 2016, foreign visitors to the complex rose by 4.63 percent, reaching 2.19 million people.