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Meeting puts temple villagers in spotlight

Meeting puts temple villagers in spotlight

Restoration of the Angkor temples won’t be the only thing talked about at a meeting in Siem Reap today – the living conditions of more than 100,000 villagers residing at the heritage site is also on the agenda.

“The villagers should live harmoniously with the temples,” said Im Sokrithy, an archaeologist and department deputy director of the APSARA Authority, which oversees conservation at the Angkor Wat site and is hosting the international meeting.

“We are trying to use some policies to bring the tourists to the villages,” he said.

This week’s three-day meeting will feature presentations by international experts on themes ranging from archaeological research to tourism and community development.

“This provides opportunities for the villagers to decide how they are going to use their natural resources,” he said.

Angkor Wat temples attract more than 1 million visitors a year, but ticket revenue does not directly benefit local communities.

Senator Sok Kong’s Sokimex company manages the site and distributes the profits.

According to Im Sokrithy, APSARA has called on international organisations to hire villagers in the excavations and tourism industries.

APSARA has provided about 2,000 jobs for local communities, and a new tourism centre might contribute even more jobs, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Xiaoqing Pi at [email protected]

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