Invasion, genocide; and now the tourist hordes

A report on the tourism industry in Cambodia, particularly how Angkor is a major draw for tourists and the related problems that come with it.

9 July 2006 (Sunday Herald) – A report on the tourism industry in Cambodia, particularly how Angkor is a major draw for tourists and the related problems that come with it.

Invasion, genocide … and now the tourist hordes

Dougald O’Reilly, of Heritage Watch, says: “Archaeological tourism is, potentially, this ravaged country’s economic salvation. The temples of Angkor are still the primary destination of most tourists, but more and more people are starting to venture out to Cambodia’s more remote archaeological sites. As they do so there is an increasing danger that those temples which have survived years of abandonment, war and looting do not survive their own popularity.”

Groups such as Heritage Watch have proved effective campaigners, appealing to tourists not to buy artifacts, persuading the government to protect Cambodia’s past, and using superstition as an effective weapon. A comic book distributed to villages last year tells the story of farmers who dig up an ancient site in search of treasure. Their animals sicken and die and ghosts plague them. The book, with a cover picture of a skeleton on a phantom horse rearing over petrified treasure seekers, has apparently been quite successful in getting its message across.


Related Books:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

1 thought on “Invasion, genocide; and now the tourist hordes”

  1. What is not made clear is that tourism is much needed in the remote areas and so it behooves the Cambodian government and international organizations to bolster the capacity for tourism at these remote sites and then promote it so that the locals can benefit from the heritage resources that they have in the area.

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