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Cambodian Conundrum: How to Solve Overcrowding at Angkor Wat?

January 23, 2014 at 11:05 AM | by | ()

While Cynthia is buzzing through Brazil, Will is on the ground in Kuching at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Follow along as he dishes on the latest travel news from Southeast Asia.

The question and answer session took a heated turn as reporters fired off to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism concerning the problem of overcrowding that has many worried about the future of Angkor Wat.

The world is indeed loving it to death, as the condition of the site continues to fall victim to the 2 million tourists that visit each year. And with this year's expected completion of a road connecting Phnom Phen to Angkor Wat, that number seems likely to increase as accessibility expands and a day trip from the country's capital becomes more feasible.

Speaking to the press, Marketing and Promotion Officer Bun Bonina said the Ministry was mulling over several options to help regulate the amount of traffic that passes through the gates. The first, and most basic, is a campaign to promote other parts of the country, specifically in the realms of natural tourism. While Angkor Wat is the first thing to come to mind, Cambodia also has large stretches of undeveloped coastline, such as Kirirom National Park in the Koh Kong province in the southwest part of the country.

The most interesting of ideas, though, revolves around the concept of a proposed registration system that would cap and limit the number of entrants each day. Details were not provided as this is still only a vague concept, but the sense was that it would require tourists to register, to make an appointment, if you will (no walk-ins). The board prefers this sort of structure as opposed to a one-in, one-out type of policy that would create a "no entrance guaranteed" situation that would be a total turnoff (and logistical nightmare) for tourists traveling long distances.

Based on the mood in the room and the obvious implications Angkor Wat's future has for both travelers and the country of Cambodia, we'll be sure to stay on this trail. Given that the clock is ticking on the site's condition, we'd like to think that this issue will be addressed within the next year. If not, that will be news in itself.

[Photo: Alamy]

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