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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sumitomo in talks over $30 million for Angkor

Sumitomo in talks over $30 million for Angkor

sumito.jpg
sumito.jpg

The government is in discussions with Japanese company Sumitomo over its plans to

invest around $30 million for a tourist center in Siem Reap, home to Angkor Wat.

Entry to Angkor Thom ... 1 million tourists expected at temples in 2005.

Nuth Nin Doeurn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, said the project

would improve the facilities available to visitors. He added that the company was

negotiating with the Apsara Authority, the government body that manages Angkor Wat.

"We are keen to manage the situation properly in order to ensure the temples

are conserved, given that the number of tourists visiting Angkor Wat is growing rapidly,"

said Doeurn.

He said the government projected that 1 million tourists would visit the Angkor temple

complex by 2005. However, he did not expect that such sizable numbers would adversely

affect the country's prestigious World Cultural Heritage site.

Doeurn said that the center would provide a space for tourists to watch a traditional

history show before visiting the temples. The location had not been decided, but

he hoped it would fall within the Apsara Authority's zone in Siem Reap town.

An official at the Apsara Authority confirmed the project was under discussion.

He said a decision had not yet been reached, but felt it was likely the center would

be built within the town's hotel zone.

Tamara Teneishvili, World Heritage Unit Program Specialist at UNESCO, said the current

tourist numbers were not a problem, but added that there was concern over predictions

of future growth.

"As regards the increasing number of tourists, we hope the Cambodian authorities

will manage the situation in a proper way," she said. "[It is important

to do this] from the beginning in order to protect Siem Reap, home to this beautiful,

charming place."

She said it was essential that management of Angkor Wat take into account the needs

of conservation as well as those of development.

"We understand that Cambodia would like to further develop the site as a tourist

destination," she said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke of the importance of improving the country's infrastructure

to benefit tourism during a speech at the inauguration of a stretch of National Road

6, the northern route connecting Phnom Penh with Siem Reap. He ordered that five

roads within Siem Reap town be rehabilitated.

"Siem Reap is a very important town that attracts tourist and provides a service,"

said Hun Sen.

Figures from the Apsara Authority show that around 30,000 tourists visited Angkor

Wat in January.

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