Cambodia: ‘Angkor Lifetime Pass’ planned for foreign tourists

The Phnom Penh Post
Tourists visit Angkor Wat earlier this year after Cambodia rolled back COVID-19 restrictions.

The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travelers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit Cambodia Year 2023” campaign draws near.

The “Angkor Lifetime Pass” and other proposals for special tourism packages and offers around Siem Reap were presented on Aug. 8 at the first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Tourism Promotion and Attraction — which is under the Siem Reap-Angkor Tourism Management and Development Commission — led by Tourism Minister Thong Khon, the ministry said in a statement.

Speaking in the statement, Khon mentioned the “Angkor Pass Package” as a possible add-on to the lifetime pass for “visiting temples,” but offered no additional details. He added that the “Privileged Pass Package” would provide “priority rights” for international visitors to use certain tourism services.

Khon confirmed that the ministry was studying the proposals with the private tourism sector and relevant institutions to ensure guest satisfaction and repeat visits, and would submit those determined to be more valuable to the government for review.

The lifetime pass could potentially grant access to the entirety of the archaeological park. Currently, separate tickets are required to enter temples in certain areas, with only one-day, three-day and seven-day tickets available for the main section — which includes the main attraction, Angkor Wat — costing $37, $62 and $72, respectively. Cambodians do not pay entry.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan, who attended the Aug. 8 meeting, welcomed the prospects of an “Angkor Lifetime Pass,” underscoring that the initiative would require the participation of all stakeholders.

“This work will demand us to put up the funds to support these tour packages, as Siem Reap Province must be treated like a budding maiden.

“In addition, we must pay attention to service and pricing matters given how much Siem Reap is developing, and in doing so, all of us tourism players and stakeholders must refrain from overreliance on the ministry, which has already done quite enough in the area,” he said.

On Aug. 1, the Cambodian government launched the action plan for the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan (2022-2023), focusing on six priority destinations, to boost tourism and regain pre-COVID tourist numbers in the province.

The action plan sets out 17 strategies and 37 implementation activities for Angkor Archaeological Park, Phnom Kulen National Park, the Banteay Srei Protected Area and its environs, the Siem Reap town area, the Tonle Sap Lake area and the Siem Reap Thmey Tourism Area.

The minister has said that Siem Reap Province hopes to welcome over 100,000 international travelers in 2022, with plans to increase the figure to 500,000 in 2023.

Siem Reap provincial Gov. Tea Seiha expressed confidence that the development of new infrastructure in the province and the master plan would return tourist figures to pre-COVID levels.

“The 38-road infrastructure project in Siem Reap, thanks to a special budget of around $150 million, is the right investment based on a long-term vision to promote and rehabilitate the tourism sector in Siem Reap,” he said.

According to the ministry, Siem Reap received about 60,000 international visitors in the first half of 2022, up 1,025% from the corresponding period in 2021.

In the same period, domestic trips rose to over 1 million, representing a growth of 798% from a year ago, while 387 flights to Siem Reap were recorded.