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Preah Vihear temple waiting for sustained tourism recovery

Preah Vihear temple waiting for sustained tourism recovery

Tourist are staying away from Preah Vihear temple, despite violent clashes dropping off since the beginning of May, according to local officials.

Although the temple complex has been visited by fewer Cambodian tourists, the number of foreign tourists is on the rise, said Preah Vihear Provincial Tourism Department Director Kong Vibol.

“They are still scared to see the temples, fearing a repeat of the deadly clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops,” he said yesterday.

The temple complex has been visited by 27,980 total tourists in the first six months, a 40 percent decrease on the 46,400 total arrivals in the same period last year, department statistics obtained yesterday show.

However, 1,095 foreign tourists visited the temple during the period, more than double the 480 in the same six months in 2010.

“Local tourists decreased, but there’s been a sharp rise in foreign tourists to the temple in May and June after the armed clashes between Cambodia and Thailand died down,” he said.

“If the situation remains quiet as today, I hope that local and international tourists will double their visits this year.”

The temple complex had the potential to become Cambodia’s second largest cultural tourism draw after the Angkor Wat temples, he added.

Tourism Working Group co-chair Ho Vandy said the border clashes had impacted overall tourist arrivals to the temple.

“Tourists remain scared for their security with visiting Preah Vihear temple, because of the border clash,” he said.

Improved infrastructure links to the remote temple and continued security with Thailand would increase Preah Vihear’s popularity as a tourism destination, said Ho Vandy.

Ministry of Tourism figures show a total of 1.191 million international visitors came to Cambodia in the first five months, a 13 percent increase on the 1.05 million visitors in the same period 2010.

Vietnam, the largest source of arrivals, saw a 16.2 percent increase to 234,485 visitors during the period.  South Korea was second with a 20.4-percent jump to 151,056 total arrivals, followed by China, which saw a 33.5-percent rise to 99,531.

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