A working group from the APSARA National Authority (ANA)'s Department of Water Management was restoring water hyacinth in Angkor Thom’s moat as part of conservation work and efforts to make it more appealing to tourists who visit Angkor Archaeological Park.

Nhem Raksmey, technical officer at the department, said rehabilitation work commenced on April 24 with 40 people. It started near Angkor Thom’s Takav gate (west gate).

Raksmey said that the restoration work covered 150,000sqm, and the group had struck some obstacles along the way because of thick plant coverage.

"The restoration team has been busy pulling out the thick water hyacinths from the water and placing them on the moat’s bank. Grass and small plants have become so thick and heavy that in some places you could hardly see the water. Some plants grew down 60cm into the water," he said.

He said this problem was formed by small plants in the water growing over a long time and lack of adequate cleaning, causing this thick mass of plants.

However, he said that the team is looking for alternative ways to speed up the work. This means using equipment as we are currently using only manual labour.

Reaksmey expects that after the restoration, the environment in the western part of Angkor Thom will be beautiful and can attract more tourists.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents and Cambodia Chamber of Commerce adviser Ho Vandy said the joint restoration work in the Angkor area would certainly attract more tourists after the Covid-19 situation improves.

"It's very good to make improvements because we already know that in the field of tourism to attract visitors the first is beauty, the second is the landscape, the third is view, the fourth is quality and the fifth is safety," he said.

"So, our selling point is not just the temples but to also provide all these services. So, we appreciate ANA for consulting with UNESCO on all these renovations,” he said.

Raksmey said the restoration was sponsored by philanthropists and senior officials including Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Men Sam An; Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeung Sakona; and the ANA Chairman of the Board of Directors Seang Chan Heng.

ANA and the Angkor Institute began to reopen the Angkor area to the public from April 26 after being closed for a short time to prevent the spread of Covid 19.

On the first day of reopening, ANA said the Angkor Archaeological Park received 701 tourists, while authorities continue to strengthen measures to prevent Covid 19.