The Kingdom generated more than $35 million from ticket sales to the Angkor Archaeological Park – its main tourism site – in the first three months of this year, a nine per cent drop on the same period last year, Angkor Enterprise data shows.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said the decline in revenue and the number of tourists was due to the hot weather, which led visitors to choose other destinations.

The Angkor Enterprise figures released on Monday show 787,900 foreign tourists visited the park from January to March, an 8.23 per cent decrease year-on-year, which generated $35,952,840 in revenue, a 9.34 per cent decrease.

The temple complex remains the top tourist dollar earner compared with two other famous world heritage sites – Preah Vihear province’s Preah Vihear Temple and Kampong Thom province’s Sambor Prei Kuk Archaeological Site.

‘Tourism fluctuation’

However, Sopheak said the decline was not unusual in tourism trends and known as “tourism fluctuation”.

“It is a normal trend – since the weather is very hot, the tourist may change their destination to coastal areas or an eco-tourism site,” he said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said overall trends have remained stable but periods of stay have dropped.

“Visitor arrivals are stable, but I have noticed that they’ve reduced the length of their stay,” she said. “Usually foreigners stayed three days but now they mostly prefer a single day.”

Sivlin said the decline could be linked to the February 1, 2017 ticket price increase.

“As our [Angkor Wat] tickets are a bit more expensive, tourists want to try new destinations in the Kingdom as well,” she said.

Prices of admission for foreign visitors to Angkor Wat are now set at $37 for a single day, $62 for a three-day pass and $72 for a weeklong pass. They used to be $20, $40 and $60 respectively.

Cambodia Tourism Federation chairman Sinan Thourn said the Kingdom’s tourism market is not balanced and urged the government to create more tourism products to attract visitors to stay longer.

He said a lack of infrastructure improvement projects in Siem Reap province is also an issue for the sector.

“While we have [more] Chinese visitors, we are losing other foreign tourists, as we all know, in Sihanoukville,” he added.

“To maintain tourist numbers, the government should try to make the temple go more ‘green’ during the dry season, as well as introduce quality services.”

Cambodia attracted 1.24 million foreign tourists in the first two months of this year, an almost 10 per cent increase year-on-year and led by the Chinese.

Data shows that during this period, the Kingdom attracted 418,572 Chinese tourists, a 31.7 per cent increase compared with the same period last year, while Vietnam still stands at number two with 124,266 visitors, followed by Laos with 86,505 visitors.

However, tourists from South Korea declined 19 per cent year-on-year to 72,867.