Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Battambang, tourism, UNESCO officials talk World Heritage plans

Battambang, tourism, UNESCO officials talk World Heritage plans

Battambang, tourism, UNESCO officials talk World Heritage plans

UNESCO, the Battambang provicial government and tourism officials held talks yesterday on plans to list the province on the UN arm’s World Heritage Cities Program.

As part of the first of several conferences on sustainable tourism for the conservation of cultural and natural heritage and the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, leaders of the three institutions discussed the inclusion of Battambang in the UNESCO program, which could ensure the protection of the province’s natural and cultural heritage sites.

This program also aims to provide the provincial government with assistance in protecting and managing its heritage and thus promote socio-economic development.

“We are discussing to list Battambang as a UNESCO heritage city, as Battambang has its own potential, including economic potential,” said Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO country director for Cambodia.

Lemaistre hopes the UNESCO framework will encourage more tourists to visit the town and province by linking the preservation of cultural heritage and nature with developing tourist attractions.

“The idea would be to have at least a million tourists going to Angkor Wat and then on to Battambang,” she said.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents said Battambang was already popular with Cambodian tourists for its unique architecture. Eang said to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage City would increase foreign tourists.

“Battambang was named by UNESCO as the City of Performing Arts, because it has more than 100 ancient Khmer and colonial buildings and 1,000 ancient pagodas and temples, and the circus school Phare Ponleu Selpak, which could attract lots of tourists,” said Provincial Governor Chan Sophal.

Provincial authorities plan to upgrade infrastructure with road repairs and improved airport connectivity, he added.

Sophal also expressed the need for protection of cultural and natural heritage, which could be a pathway for the reduction of poverty through increased economic activity with bigger tourist numbers.

“What we are trying to do is [attract] at least two million visitors, [of which] 25 per cent will visit Battambang after they visit Siem Reap.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARIA WIRTH

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,