Tourism to ancient heritage sites is a major source of income for many Asian nations, but the signs of wear and tear to the monuments are fast becoming visible.
Tourist Boom Puts Asia’s Treasures at Risk
AFP, via Jakarta Globe, 08 March 2011
As the world recovers from the financial crisis and infrastructure in developing countries improves, the number of people drawn to Asiaâ€™s cultural and natural riches has exploded.
While this brings in much-needed revenue, observers fear that the growth in tourism is putting unprecedented pressure on precious and often fragile World Heritage sites.
At Angkor Wat, the most impressive of the parkâ€™s many temples, tourists are largely free to wander around the 12th-century complex, ignoring one-way signs and clambering over fallen stones.
Many lean against the ancient walls, while others trace delicate bas reliefs with their fingers.
â€œYou start to notice a little bit of wear and tear and youâ€™re not sure if itâ€™s from centuries of use or if itâ€™s from lots of tourists,â€ said Rona Soranno, 36, from California, after completing a tour of the templeâ€™s inner courtyard.
Her 33-year-old partner Marcus Welsh added: â€œOn the one hand itâ€™s totally awesome that I am able to step on the stones and be close to so much history, but you have to wonder what itâ€™s going to look like years from now.â€