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,"
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,
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.