Expo fever prompts $20 million Siem Reap facelift
- From: rectravel@xxxxxxxxx
- Date: 24 Aug 2006 21:53:18 -0700
By Cheang Sokha
The government is spending $20 million to rehabilitate infrastructure
in Siem Reap for the Angkor-Gyeongju World Cultural Expo 2006, which
opens in November and is hoped to attract roughly 400,000 visitors, a
government official told the Post.
As part of the infrastructure development, the expo is spurring
Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) to have a 50-megawatt electricity supply
from Thailand up and running in Siem Reap by the end of October.
Thong Khon, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, said the
expo will run from November 21, 2006 to January 9, 2007 and will be
open to the public from 3pm to 11pm for 50 days.
"We want to show that Cambodia has the ability to host big events,"
said Khon, who is also deputy chairman of the organizing committee. "We
want to raise awareness that we are in peace and development."
Khon said the expo is being organized jointly by Cambodia and South
Korea and is expected to cost $6 million, of which Korea will pay $4
million and Cambodia $2 million.
He said 4,000 tourists arrived every day in Siem Reap now, and this was
expected to double during the expo, providing extra income for local
Young Lee, vice chairman of the Angkor-Gyeongju World Cultural Expo
2006, said the Cambodian and Korean governments signed a Memorandum of
Understanding in October 2005 for Siem Reap to host the events.
"We want the world know that Cambodia and South Korea have a close
relationship," Lee said. "Anyway, Buddhism is the top religion in Korea
and we have similar cultures."
Lee said 20 countries from various continents had confirmed
participation in the exhibition and five other countries are expected
to join in. Construction at the site was under way, and rain was the
only likely problem.
Lee said 12 teams of traditional dance, music and drama from Korea will
perform with Cambodian teams during the expo. The Korean teams will
arrive in mid-October and the teams will start rehearsal in early
November. Korean traditional foods and other products will also be
"The culture reputation of the two countries will spread out all over
the world after the events," Lee said.
He said at least 150,000 Koreans will come, and he is concerned that
there will not be enough hotel rooms.
Khon said international kite flying, movies, fashion shows, cock
fighting, horse races and art performances will be shown.
A senior official at the Apsara Authority, who did not want to be
named, said the exhibition center is being built on a 15-hectare plot
of land belonging to the authority in the Cultural and Tourism zone 7km
from Angkor Wat.
He said the authority was cooperating with Electric du Cambodge to run
electricity from Thailand to Siem Reap in time for the exhibition, to
build eight roads from the town to the expo site and to light the roads
surrounding the center.
"The President of [South] Korea will attend the opening ceremony on
November 20," he said.
Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin said the provincial authority is
rehabilitating the infrastructure in the town for the events,
strengthening security, and instructing vendors around the markets not
to sell on paved roads to keep them attractive.
Phirin said a four-hectare plot at the exhibition center will be set
aside for local vendors and those from other provinces to sell their
According to a report from the Ministry of Tourism, in the first six
months of 2006, 813,392 international visitors arrived in Cambodia - an
increase of 19 percent over last year. Khon estimated that the number
of international visitors will reach two million in 2006.
However Moeung Sonn, president of the National Association of Tourism
Enterprises, said he does not believe that the number of tourists will
rise as much as Khon predicts. He said the exhibition will not interest
the international community. And he did not think there would be much
business in it for local tourist agencies.
"Just to see the exhibition show, visitors will need to stay one or two
days," said Sonn, who is also deputy chairman of the Siem Reap Chamber
of Commerce, "I think local tour agencies will not get much benefit
from tourists, as foreign tours have already arranged by themselves."
EDC has contracted with a Thai company to connect electricity from
Thailand through Poipet to Sisophon, and from there to both Siem Reap
and Battambang, Houng Chantha, head of the technical office of EDC's
corporate planning and projects department, told the Post.
He said the priority was to be providing 50MW of Thai electricity to
Siem Reap town by the end of October in time for the expo. Like almost
all Cambodian towns, Siem Reap now relies on an expensive and
inadequate supply of electricity from petrol-driven generators.
To date, electricity poles have been installed over 110 km from Siem
Reap to Sisophon. Work is under way on the remaining 48 km to Poipet.
Chantha said the price of Siem Reap's electricity would probably go
down once it was coming from Thailand.
And he said if the installation of the power supply from Thailand went
smoothly the lines would soon be extended to Kampong Thom and Kampong
Phnom Penh Post, Issue 15 / 17, August 25 - September 7, 2006
© Michael Hayes, 2006. All rights revert to authors and artists on
For permission to publish any part of this publication, contact Michael
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