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Cambodia Relocates Angkor Wat Communities in Controversial Tourism Touch-Up

Skift Take

Cultural sites like Angkor Wat must be preserved, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of local livelihoods. Destinations shouldn’t treat the two as if they are in conflict.

Cambodia is upending the lives of thousands of people to preserve the temple complex Angkor Wat and improve its visitor experience. Locals that have built businesses and resided there for years will be cut out of the temple’s tourism economy.

Over the last few months, the Cambodian government has been relocating nearly 10,000 people living in the park in order preserve the temples and respect its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The government states it will give the residents plots of land located far from the temple complex in exchange for their relocation. If they refuse, the government will remove them forcefully and give them nothing, said G Adventures Director of Operations for South Asia Mark Howarth-Archer.

Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction, labeled as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and it sits in Angkor Archaeological Park. Spanning 400 square kilometers and located near Siem Reap, the park attracted over 280,000 international visitors in 2022, according to the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism. About 1,800 and 2,000 international tourists come to the park per day. 

Source : Skift