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Preah Vihear on the tourist trail

Preah Vihear on the tourist trail

120518_08

Tourists visit the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple near the Thai-Cambodian border in 2009. Photograph: Reuters

The number of international tourists visiting Preah Vihear temple increased more than 166 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to the same time last year, tourism officials said yesterday.

Combat between Cambodia and Thailand over an area near the temple discouraged tourism in the region early last year.

Kong Vibol, Preah Vihear province’s tourism department director, said the number of foreign tourists increased from 950 in the first four months of last year compared to 2,527 this year.

“Most of [the] tourists come from Asia, and they go there by driving [their own vehicles], but there are not so many tourists [who] went there [in] groups,” said Kong Vibol.

The number of Cambodians visiting the temple increased more than 49 per cent between January and April.  “We see more and more visitors at the temple because there were not many last year due to the clash in February,” Kong Vibol said.

Kong said he expects the number of tourists to decrease in the coming months because of the rainy season.

According to Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector working group on tourism, said visiting the site of Thai-Cambodian border clashes was a main reason for visiting the temple. More tourists are also arriving due to better roads and other infrastructure in the region, he said.

The last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, Anlong Veng, has also become a popular destination.

“The private sector is trying to promote the temple with tourist packages. There wasn’t any interest but now things are starting to change,” he added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]

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