An elephant-riding Angkor-era warrior looks on appalled as visitors to Angkor Wat smoke, take selfies with monks, and put their feet on statues in a video released on Friday to encourage good behaviour at Cambodia’s most popular ancient site.
The film, produced by the Apsara Authority, which runs the Angkor temple complex, hammers home a code of conduct introduced earlier this year after highly publicised incidents of bad behaviour including the use of the temple as a backdrop for nude photos.
“It’s our duty to respect the Angkor code of conduct,” Apsara Authority’s deputy director-general Sok Sangvar says in the slickly produced two-minute film.
“These rules are made in order to prevent negative impacts on our temple, our environment and our culture.”
Many first-time visitors to Angkor simply do not understand how to behave at the temples, according to Apsara spokesman Long Korsal.
“Sometimes tourists take selfies with monks . . . But in Cambodia, monks must be respected”, he said.
Every TV channel in the Kingdom has been sent a copy of the video, Korsal added, and this was partly in response to an increase in Cambodian visitors.
“We are seeing an increase in indigenous tourists . . . as Cambodia becomes wealthier and people have more money,” he said. “But we also have to educate local people about what is appropriate.”
The number of Cambodian visitors to Siem Reap rose by 56 per cent in the first six months of this year, according to Chheuy Chhorn, deputy director of the city’s tourism department.