As the first light of day breaks over the Cambodian landscape, the ancient stones of Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei Temples emanate a mystical allure. This August, the APSARA National Authority (ANA) plans to amplify this enchantment by introducing new guided tours at these UNESCO World Heritage sites, aiming to elevate the visitor experience and deepen the exploration of their history.
In a July 20 announcement, ANA unveiled an innovative set of tours slated to launch on August 1. This initiative aims to rejuvenate the exploration experience of these architectural marvels. In preparation for the launch, infrastructure modifications such as new stairs, railings, directional signs and informative billboards that describe the sculptures on the temple walls have been thoughtfully introduced.
"In an endeavour to augment the quality and value of the tours, while enhancing the experiences of both local and international visitors, we have invested in extensive research and meticulous planning for this new film at these two temples," reads the ANA statement.
The guided tours offer a range of options to cater to diverse interests and schedules. Visitors can explore Angkor Wat's grandeur through three distinct routes -- a two-hour "Tourist Destination" tour, a two-and-a-half "Religious Tour", and an all-encompassing three-hour "History Tour". The Banteay Srei Temple, known as the citadel of women, offers two immersive journeys of one hour and 20 minutes or one hour and 40 minutes duration.
The ANA asserts that these novel tours at both temples will guide visitors through key sections like the intricate carvings and narrative sculptures, promising an unparalleled viewing experience like never before.
During the course of the launch, the ANA will employ data-driven methods, counting and tracking the number of visitors to evaluate the impact of these newly introduced tours. Therefore, ANA anticipates widespread participation and collaboration from ministries, national and international institutions, local authorities, departments, units, associations, travel agencies, tourism guides, tourism transport associations, tour operators, and indeed, visitors and the general public.
These initiatives come as Cambodia's tourism sector shows robust signs of recovery post-pandemic.
In the first half of this year alone, the nation had generated more than $18 million from ticket sales to foreign visitors at Angkor, Koh Ker temple complex and Chong Kneas floating village, all managed by Angkor Enterprise, a state-owned body in charge of Angkor income management.
This significant revenue represents a striking sixfold increase compared to the same period in 2022, heralding a promising revival of Cambodia's tourism industry.