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 people.
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
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 shown.
"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 products.
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
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 Cham.