In the first nine months of 2023, Preah Vihear and Koh Ker temples in Preah Vihear province collectively welcomed over 100,000 visitors.

The former saw more than 60,000 visitors, while Koh Ker temple complex – another archaeological site added to UNESCO World Heritage List last month – had over 40,000, as per the National Authority for Preah Vihear (NAPV).

Kong Puthika, director-general of NAPV, said on October 2 that from January to September, Preah Vihear Temple welcomed 62,653 visitors, 6,027 of them foreign tourists. Over the same period last year, the temple – built on the edge of a plateau in the Dangrek mountain range and dedicated to Shiva – received 79,818 visitors, 2,089 of them international tourists.

He noted that the number of Cambodian visitors to the temple this year decreased by 28 per cent, while international visitors increased by 189 per cent over the same period last year,.

So far this year, Koh Ker temple complex attracted 44,162 national visitors, compared to 42,662 over the corresponding period of 2022.

“Hence, during the nine months of this year, we have seen a 3.6 per cent rise in domestic visitors to Koh Ker temple complex, compared to the same period in 2022,” he affirmed.

Mam Rithy, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, noted a significant decline in foreign visitors to destinations in Preah Vihear province and neighbouring Siem Reap this year. He also observed a slight decrease in the number of domestic tourists.

He suggested that the the Ministry of Tourism and its municipal-provincial departments refine their strategies. These should encompass implementation, capacity, techniques, service and tourist promotion, avoiding the repetition of the same approaches. Instead, they should aim to improve and enhance these services.

“Additionally, the government should prioritise enhancing our security situation. Recent media coverage has highlighted security issues, potentially affecting tourist interest. Therefore, strengthening measures is essential to ensure a smooth experience for tourists,” he said.

He suggested that the government focus on showcasing the current political stability to assure foreign tourists of Cambodia’s peaceful environment and harmonious society. This, too, plays a significant role in encouraging tourists to revisit.