The government has been making more money from Angkor Wat ticket sales after amending the concession contract with local conglomerate Sokimex, according to government and company officials.
Sokimex, a major petroleum company with other various businesses, has given up its right to receive all ticket sales above the $1 million it was paying in royalties to the government.
The government and the company now will evenly split the revenue from ticket sales up to $3 million. When sales exceed $3 million, the government will take a 70 percent cut, leaving Sokimex the remaining 30 percent of sales income.
Government officials said this agreement will bring more money into the national coffers.
“[Sokimex] has made lots of money from ticket sales since more tourists started coming to Angkor Wat after the government adopted the open-sky policy,” said Bun Narith, deputy director-general of the Apsara Authority, which oversees the ninth to 14th century temples. “In order to get more revenue from the temples site, we changed the contract.”
The new revenue sharing plan started Sept 1 after months of criticism over the previous deal on ticket sales at the temples. When the government transferred ticket concession rights from the Ministry of Tourism to Sokimex in early 1999, opposition lawmakers claimed the government had too many lucrative deals with the company. Officials also had complained that more money from sales should be shared by the government.
According to the Tourism Ministry, the number of tourist arrivals at Siem Reap has doubled since last year. More than 131,000 people visited Siem Reap in the first nine months of this year, ministry Secretary of State Thon Kong said. About $3 million in tickets were sold last year by Sokimex, more than tripling 1998 sales and leaving the company at least a $2 million profit.
Company officials say the new deal is unfair because Sokimex invested $40,000 in ticket booth upgrades and training after taking over the sales operations.
“I think it’s not fair…for our partnership,” said president Sok Kong. “We pay everything, and the government takes money without paying anything.”
According to the agreement, the new revenue sharing agreement will last through August 2005.