Siem Reap’s far-ranging beautification project got into gear with the opening of a new 40-metre bridge near the Old Market by provincial governor Sou Phirin.
At the ceremony, Apsara Authority general director Bun Narith said: “The government wants to restore Siem Reap River back to its glory, and construct a charming garden on both sides of the river involving the planting of over 640 trees.”
He said the construction of the new bridge will increase tourist traffic in the area between Old Market and Dream Flower Market prior to the start of a second phase
of the beautification plan which will include the installation of hoardings featuring new tourist maps, and the heritage listing of several pagodas and other buildings around Siem Reap town.
During his speech at the bridge opening, Sou Phirin also highlighted the impact of residential pollution on the river which he said is destroying an important tourism asset.
“Until 1993 the river had clean water that you could drink or swim in. The scenery was also relaxing and enjoyed by many tourists. Recently, the beauty of the river has begun to die, and we must remember this was a sacred river in the Angkor period.”
At the end of the ceremony Sou Phirin was confronted by a South Korean tourist who complained about police preventing him from walking across the bridge during the ceremony.
Gesturing at a map, the tourist also told Sou Phirin that he was disappointed with the lack of information provided to visitors to Siem Reap on maps such as the one he was consulting.
Politely taking the tourist aside, Sou Phirin explained that a ceremony to inaugurate the bridge was underway, and that he takes the issue of providing correct information to visitors very seriously.
He said: “At the moment we’re trying to install more maps for tourists along the roads, and we’re hoping that after this, tourists will not lose their way if they forget their map book.”
Recently, an additional six tourist information maps along roads in Siem Reap were installed by the provincial government at a cost of $28,745.