The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara
REVENUES from ticket sales to Cambodia's main attraction Angkor Wat fell almost 20 percent in the first half compared to last year, the Apsara Authority, one of the main bodies responsible for income from the temples, said Tuesday.
Bun Narith, director general of Apsara Authority, blamed the global economic crisis, political unrest in neighbouring Thailand and bad weather for the drop.
"Almost all countries have been affected by the global economic crisis, which has fully impacted our tourism sector.... [Foreigners] have cut down on travelling," he said.
The first-half decline reported by Apsara represents the latest fall in visitor revenues from Angkor Wat - in 2008, revenues declined to US$30 million from $32 million the previous year.
However, as in the past, Apsara declined to supply a detailed breakdown of ticket sales or revenues. Svay Ritthy, a representative of Sokha Hotels, declined to comment Tuesday and referred questions back to Apsara.
The government awarded Sokimex, the holding group that owns Sokha Hotels, a 10-year concession on revenues from Angkor Wat in April 1999 as part of an agreement that included Apsara.
Bun Narith said efforts had been made to improve the situation facing tourism since the downturn - namely price reductions and promotions, the launch of new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air in July and new border crossings.
"We are seeing the number of Vietnamese tourists to Angkor Wat rise every day," he said.
In the first six months, Vietnamese arrivals rose 40 percent year-on-year to 147,721 while Thai visitors fell sharply by 25 percent - from 67,502 to 50,886 over the same period.