Marking the 28th anniversary of Angkor Wat’s inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen have issued statements in recognition of the event that reaffirm Cambodia’s commitment to its continued preservation.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Angkor Wat had become one of the top tourist destinations in the world when measured both by critical acclaim from travel experts and in terms of the large number of visitors to the ancient temple complex.
Officially listed by UNESCO as Angkor Archaeological Park – commonly referred to as Angkor Wat – on December 14, 1992, the site includes the Temple of Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple along with scores of other temples, monuments and structures within a total area of 400sq km.
In a December 14 letter marking the 28th anniversary, the King said: “The people across the Kingdom would like to express the highest gratitude to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk for crucially paving the way by protecting and promoting the great name of Angkor Wat.
“The late King Father preserved and developed the Angkor Resort as a precious inheritance for all future generations of Cambodians,” the letter said.
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Hun Sen reminded all Cambodian people to take part in preserving Cambodia’s heritage.
He also expressed a deep gratitude to the Cambodian ancestors who had made sacrifices in the past to benefit the cause of the glorious Khmer civilisation and to the leaders of the country who had continually struggled to overcome all obstacles in order to protect the valuable cultural heritage of the nation, which had been recognised and celebrated across the globe.
“The Cambodian government is strongly committed to conserving this wonderful heritage. In recent times, Angkor Wat had become the number one tourist destination in the world. It has attracted millions of international tourists here to learn about the cultural wealth of Cambodia,” he said.
The Angkor Archaeological Park was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in Santa Fe in the US state of Texas on the initiative of the late King Father after he had appealed to UNESCO for assistance in preserving and protecting it.
In response to the appeal, an international conference was held from October 12-13, 1993, in Tokyo, Japan, organised by the Japanese government.
With the support of France and UNESCO, they began to lay out strategies and plans that would ensure the conservation of the site while also promoting it as a tourist attraction.
To achieve these goals, the International Coordinating Committee (ICC-Angkor) was set up in 1993. It consisted of 30 countries which provided aid and assistance to Cambodia’s Apsara National Authority (ANA), the government agency responsible for the management of the Angkor Archaeological Park.
This partnership was ultimately successful in their efforts at conservation, with Angkor Wat having been removed from the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2004.
The ANA also released a video clip on its Facebook page to mark the 28th anniversary. The clip echoed Hun Sen’s sentiments, reminding all Cambodians to love their heritage and to take part in preserving it while expressing a deep gratitude to the Khmer ancestors for the glories of the Angkor civilisation.