The Apsara National Authority (ANA) is trying to raise awareness of new discoveries made in the last three years in the Angkor Archaeological Park with local tour guides so that they can properly educate and inform foreign visitors about Cambodia’s history and the important work underway there.

ANA spokesman Long Kosal said on June 8 that the ANA has made many new discoveries in the last three years.

He said they have found buried remains of wooden structures nearly 1,000 years old along with a statue related to Brahmanism as part of archaeological excavations at the bottom of a pond north of Angkor Wat.

He added that there was also the discovery of a ceramics kiln dating back to the Angkorian or post-Angkorian period north of the Angkor Thom pottery gate along with statues of Buddha.

Kosal said these discoveries were explained by the ANA to 65 Siem Reap-based Angkor Wat tour guides via a special training course which lasted for 10 days from June 7-16.

At the training session, the ANA instructors also gave presentations outlining the overall vision of the Khmer ancestors for organisation of infrastructure and good territorial management.

He added that ANA also did presentations for the guides on the conservation of the ancient structures and for sustainable development of the Angkor site.

“First, we trained them in some leadership concepts and managing work duties in the park. We told them the appropriate explanations to give to tourists.

“Second, we gave them a clear understanding, without any doubt, that they should avoid telling tourists their own personal opinions, because they could negatively affect the prestige of our nation,” he said.

Kosal confirmed that organising the tours had taken on a new importance as part of their training because they want to be able to better manage the flow of tourists through the park and they do not want the guides to waste any time while visiting the most popular sites.

“The tour guides allow us to control the flow of tourists, otherwise they are just walking all over the place and they lose out on the opportunity to visit the best locations in the temples,” he said.

Hang Peou, director-general of the ANA, said the training course has two main purposes: First, to share knowledge and introduce new tourism destinations in the region of Siem Reap-Angkor to the tour guides, because they are the most influential ambassadors for the park who can promote new research findings and the discovery of new Khmer cultural achievements, which will confirm the true value of the Angkor site.

Second, ANA wants the tour guides to cooperate with the tourism agents from the ANA by helping to manage tourists in a new way at the Angkor site as tourism fully resumes, he said.

Pich Chhada, a tour guide who specialises in Japanese clients, said on June 8 that although this course has just started and he was only on the second day, he already found the training useful. He said it would give tour guides a deeper understanding of what they did not know about before, especially regarding the discoveries from new excavations that show the structures underneath Angkor nobody knew existed.

“I think it will increase our capacity for responding to our tourists, because in the past we also had some points which we couldn’t answer immediately and we’d have to ask for time to do some research, but now we know more points about the site than before. This training will help us respond to a broader range of questions from tourists,” he said.