via Bangkok Post, 07 and 09 Mar 2019: While I’m bringing to attention the recent plans to drill for oil next to one of the ruins in Si Thep, it’s a good idea to take a step back and appreciate the significance of Si Thep in the first place. The temple ruins are only the most recent archaeological vestige; the area has been occupied for at least the last 2000 years, developing into a moated settlement with distinct Dvaravati and Khmer periods. This transformation over time which can be detected by archaeology is part of what makes Si Thep an exceptional heritage site.
The Dvaravati monument and the park, which hopes to one day be included in Unesco’s list of World Heritage sites, have recently been a hot topic in the media. But not because of the Unesco bid. (The nomination is still in the planning process.) Si Thep was in the news because an oil drilling operation is set to be carried out close to Khao Khlang Nok stupa. How close? Reportedly, around 100m.
Civic groups in the province as well as the Fine Arts Department, which oversees the historical park, protested the project, as it is a potential threat to the 1,300-year-old religious monument. While it is still unclear how the conflict will be resolved, perhaps we should take this opportunity to get to know a few things about Khao Khlang Nok and Si Thep.
The historical park can be explored on foot or, even better, by bicycle. According to archaeological studies, the area now designated as the historical park has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Excavations have turned up human skeletons buried with pottery and other objects dating back 2,000 years. Over the centuries, the settlement developed. During the Dvaravati period, which was heavily influenced by Indian cultures, it became a moated town, and continued to prosper throughout the period of Khmer dominance.
via Khmer Times, 4 Mar 2019: The move is to stem littering in the Angkor complex.
The Apsara Authority has banned visitors from eating food in the World-heritage temple complex.
Hang Pov, Apsara Authority director, said in a letter dated Thursday that the authority wished to remind relevant parties that the Angkor area is a World Heritage Site with many famous temples, especially Angkor Wat, and that eating food in the complex is now banned.
“In order to preserve the precious Khmer legacy and to maintain public order and good sanitation, we ban all food, especially packed meals brought in during sunrise or sunset visits, in the temple complex,” he said.
The Apsara Authority, on behalf of the Angkor Archaeological Park, on Wednesday accepted a Smoke-Free Heritage Award from the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca) and the World Health Organisation based in the Asia-Pacific region.
The award was presented during a workshop to advance the campaign to make Siem Reap a smoke-free city.
The event, held at the Apsara Palace Hotel, was attended by Ministry of Tourism undersecretary of state Hor Saron and Seatca representative Dr Domilyn Villarreiz.
The award follows the Apsara Authority’s successful efforts to increase public awareness of the issue, emphasise the detrimental impact on the temples and transform Angkor Archaeological Park into a smoke-free zone.
via Xinhua, 01 March 2019: This is the first time in recent memory I’ve read about a drop in tourist numbers at Angkor. Could this be we have reached peak tourism in Angkor?
Cambodia’s famed Angkor Archeological Park attracted 544,309 foreign tourists in the first two months of 2019, down 7.7 percent compared to the same period last year, said a statement on Friday.
The ancient park made gross revenue of 25 million U.S. dollars from ticket sales during the January-February period this year, also down 8.7 percent over the same period last year, said the state-owned Angkor Enterprises statement.
via Bangkok Post, 01 Feb 2019: The original headline of the story was terrible (‘Sanitising history’) but the news is in fact a welcome one – a new policy by the Fine Arts Department bans styrofoam food containers from Thai historical parks.
Historical parks and learning centres under the Fine Arts Department nationwide will be free of styrofoam food containers soon under a new environmentally friendly policy.
Anandha Chuchoti, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, has revealed that the department has issued an announcement on reducing and banning the use of food containers made of styrofoam at all historical parks and learning centres under the supervision of the department.
Under the new policy, cooperation has been sought from all the agencies under the department and food vendors operating at any such parks and centres to curb and stop using styrofoam food containers.
via Spot.ph, 20 January 2019: Newly-declared heritage sites in the Philippines worth a visit.
Pindangan Ruins. Source: Christa I. De La Cruz, Spot.ph 20190120
Heritage sites will always deserve to be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s even better when they’re declared cultural treasures by international agencies or local groups, because the recognition not only helps highlight these places’ significance in our culture and history, but also helps in the preservation and protection of these awe-inspiring structures and natural wonders.
If you’ve already seen your fair share of local heritage sites, here’s a new list of recently declared National Cultural Treasures and Important Cultural Properties by the National Museum of the Philippines. Whether you’re visiting up north, traveling to Visayas and Mindanao, or even just looking for a fun weekend date, these places are worth a stop.
via Phnom Penh Post, 02 Jan 2019 and other sources: The latest tourist figures to the Angkor Archaeological Park for 2018. The 2.6 million figure counts ticket sales for international tourists, and may not necessarily reflect true visitor numbers since Cambodians enjoy access for free.
The Angkor Archaeological Park welcomed nearly 2.6 million international visitors last year, generating more than $100 million in revenue, a statement from the state-run Angkor Enterprise released on Tuesday said.
The park saw a 5.45 per cent rise in visitors to 2.59 million from last year, while revenue from ticket sales jumped eight per cent, generating $116.64 million.
However, revenue declined 1.59 per cent to around $12.11 million in December even though the number of visitors to the Kingdom’s iconic tourist site increased 0.16 per cent to 267,647.
Angkor Archaeological Park continues to generate the bulk of tourism revenue for the country from its ticket sales, despite a hike in admission fee last year, as foreigners marvel at the iconic temple.
Local authorities managing the temple complex forecast the figures could touch $117 million by year end, with about 2.6 million foreigners visiting the Angkor Wat, located in Siem Reap.
The temple complex remains the top tourist dollar earner compared to two other famous world heritage sites – Preah Vihear Temple located in Preah Vihear province and the Sambor Prei Kuk Archaeological Site in Kampong Thom province.
“There was a seven per cent growth in tourist arrivals this year and visitors from 193 countries visited the temple and 43 per cent of the total tourists are from China.
via Asean Post, 29 November 2018: Walking through Angkor today, I did notice more than a few tourists being guided by apps rather than books or human guides.
Source: ASEAN Post, 20181129
Developed by local company Angkor Audio, the device enables foreign tourists the luxury of wandering the ancient site at their own leisure without being harried and rushed along by local guides. This has raised concerns among tour guides about their livelihood.
The devices may be rented by tourists or travel agents for US$2.99 for the first month of use. There are 30,000 sets of these devices currently undergoing tests. Ironically, Angkor Audio also rents out group tour systems, a portable broadcast system that lets tour guides communicate with their guests over wireless headsets. Like the group tour systems, the Angkor App is an extension of its conference equipment rental business.
Angkor Audio operation manager, Ny Nou Ros said the app actually complements the industry. Tourist groups and some individuals prefer human tour guides, while “a few thousand more” prefer to be on their own. “We are offering them an option,” he said.
Electronic audio guides are not new to the tourism industry or even Cambodia. They existed for many years without affecting local tour guides as most of them are employed by travel agencies for group tours, Ros said.