Decision for Free Expat Access to Angkor Awaits

Tourism chiefs are urging authorities to make an official announcement regarding free access to Angkor for foreigners who have lived in Cambodia for more than two years, saying it will boost tourism in Siem Reap
Foreign nationals visit Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Foreign nationals visit Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The Apsara Authority is still mulling a move to give free entry to Angkor Wat for foreigners living in Cambodia for more than two years as travel industry experts urge them to give the green-light as soon as possible.

APSARA Authority Spokesman, Long Kosal, said on Tuesday that government ministries had been preparing to entice foreigners who have been living in Cambodia for more than two years to visit Siem Reap with the offer of a free pass to Angkor Archaeological Park. However, the authority is still awaiting an official decision.

“We are unable to announce, cannot say anything yet,” Kosal told Kiripost.

Ngov Sengkak, Director of Siem Reap Provincial Department of Tourism, said he was too busy to talk to a journalist.

In the wake of the pandemic, which devastated Cambodia’s tourism industry, the government has put in place strategies in the form of a raft of incentives to encourage tourism.

One initiative to boost domestic tourism is to waive the entrance fee at Angkor for foreigners who have lived and worked in Cambodia for two years or more, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said at the launch of the Siem Reap Tourism Development Master Plan (2022-2023).

A one-day pass for Angkor Archeological Park is $37.

Kosal said that the incentive is good to push domestic tourism to be better than before and that if an official decision is made, Siem Reap will see improved profits in the tourism sector.

“They need to pay for traveling, staying, and eating so it makes internal economic movement normal,” Kosal said.

President of Cambodian Association of Travel Agent (CATA), Chhay Sivlin, said she is eagerly awaiting the official announcement to start implementing and disseminating information to encourage other sectors to be ready to welcome foreigners.

“We have not received it and my private side does not dare to advertise. We want it to be officially released as soon as possible, because the announcement is already there, everyone, all institutions are waiting to see how to apply from day to month so that they can manage their vacation,” Sivlin said.

She added that it is normal for foreigners to visit the Angkor park. If the decision is given the go-ahead, foreigners will need to show their passport and visa to prove how many years they have lived in Cambodia.

“If they lived in Cambodia for more than two years, a visa will show when they come to Cambodia,” she said.

At the end of 2022, the Ministry of Tourism predicts the number of domestic tourists will hit 2,039,000, and the number of international tourists will increase to 239,854.