For the first time, a company is contesting Sokimex's hold on ticketing rights at
Angkor Archeological Park.
Eurasie Travel, which has operated in the tourism sector for 18 years, recently announced
that it hopes to bid for a contract at the historical site when Sokimex's agreement
with the government expires in August.
Sokimex has held exclusive ticketing rights at the park since 1999.
Moeung Sonn, managing director of Eurasie Travel, said having another company challenge
Sokimex will help promote a free market in Cambodia and encourage transparency in
the government. He added that, if granted rights to Angkor, Eurasie Travel would
help increase state revenues.
"The government should consider [our request] as my company's proposal is parallel
to [the government's] policy," Sonn said.
"I have talked with the Apsara Authority's officials, and they said they had
no choice besides Sokimex as there was no competition from other companies,"
In a May 10 letter written to Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority,
Eurasie Travel requested the right to put in a bid when Sokimex's contract expires.
Sonn proposed that the company receive a maximum of 10 percent of total revenues
for ticket sales.
Sok Kong, director general of Sokimex, said his company plans to continue holding
ticketing rights at Angkor archeological park, but he has not yet discussed a future
contract with the Apsara Authority.
"I'm not concerned about the competition," he said. "But I'm afraid
[Eurasie Travel] does not have the millions of dollars needed for investment."
But Kong said Sokimex recently cancelled its proposal to invest in ticketing rights
for six northwestern temples because other companies wanted to compete for them.
Narith said he had seen Sonn's letter, but was waiting until an internal meeting
of the Apsara Authority to read it more closely.
When Sokimex's contract expires in August, the Apsara Authority will consider different
offers, but the Council for the Development of Cambodia is responsible for final
approval of a new contract, Narith said.
Narith said Sokimex contributed approximately $1 million per month to the state budget
Before Sokimex took over ticketing rights, annual revenue reported by the Ministry
of Tourism and Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts was around $100,000 to $200,000.
Beginning June 1, ticket prices for foreigners visiting Angkor Park will increase
by $3, with a one-day visit going from $20 to $23, a three-day visit from $40 to
$43 and a week-long visit from $60 to $63.
Sonn criticized the increasing price of tickets and said tourists may reconsider
vacations to the park if prices continue to go up.