With less than two weeks to go before the millennium celebration at the Angkor temples, organizers said Wednesday they are 80-percent finished with the preparations.
Portable toilets have been brought in, roads and bridges have been fixed, and security personnel have been trained, organizers of the Angkor 2000 Committee said.
“There is no need to worry about the management of the festival because as of today, 80 percent of the work is finished,” said Sum Manit, chairman of the Angkor 2000 Committee.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that a lot of money has been wasted on the celebration and ordered all the “Festival Angkor 2000” posters hammered onto trees in Phnom Penh to be taken down.
Sum Manit said he agreed with Hun Sen, and added that all the posters have been taken down. But he said organizers have been working hard to get ready.
King Norodom Sihanouk also recently criticized the plans, calling them too ambitious. One of the problems is that there are only 2,000 hotel rooms in Siem Reap.
Thong Khon, deputy chairman of the Angkor 2000 Committee, said he estimates that 100,000 people, including locals, will attend the three-day celebration. But General Sim Sophal, who is in charge of security at the event, estimates 200,000 people.
Thong Khon said 1,600 hotel rooms have already been booked and 40 guesthouses report their rooms will be filled. He said accommodations probably will not be a problem because most Cambodians will stay with friends and family.
Sim Sophal said police will not carry guns so tourists won’t be scared, although guns will be stored in various locations in case they are needed. Ambulances also will be in the temple complex in case anyone needs medical care.
Money has also been an issue for organizers, who estimate the festival will cost $500,000. Sum Manit said organizers have received $250,000 from the government.
In addition to the $20 a day entrance fee into the complex for foreigners, foreigners also will have to pay $20 to see performances inside Angkor Wat.
Cambodians who want to attend the festival and have a seat during performances will be charged 50,000 riel (about $12.50), while locals who don’t want seats will have to pay 2,000 riel, or about 50 cents.
However, most of the 2,000 seats set up will be taken up by government officials and dignitaries. All government officials with a ranking of undersecretary and up have been invited, along with 25 ambassadors and 10 NGOs.
Thirty-two toilets have been brought into Angkor Wat and 48 to the Bayon temple. There will be a 500 riel charge to use them.