Beggars, Vendors to be Banned at Angkor

Preparing for a millennium celebration that will mark the beginning of the “Years of Peaceful Tourism,” the Apsara Authority is banning beggars and vendors from the most popular temples at Angkor.

The estimated 200 beggars and drink sellers often harass tourists as they walk through the temples, said Kuosuom Saro­euth, managing director of Angkor Tourism and Siem Reap Tourism Department‘s director.

Banning them, he said, “could make tourists feel good when they are in our temples.”

Beggars and vendors will be allowed in restricted areas inside the temple compound, but not to follow tourists as they view the temples and carvings.

The Apsara Authority has been working to educate area villagers on how to beg and sell goods without harassing tourists. The training, said Bun Narith, deputy general director of the Apsara Authority, will allow villagers to “make money instead of disturbing visitors.”

Bun Narith said beggars sometimes threaten tourists when they are turned down for donations.

A foreign tourist was beaten with a crutch earlier this year by a amputee beggar who asked for money but was ignored by the man, local police said.

After the education and training is done, the Apsara Authority and police will begin blocking beggars and vendors from entering temple areas and removing them if they enter.

Reth Chantha, general manager of Apsara Tours, said he had requested several times in the past that the Ministry of Tour­ism and Siem Reap officials control the beggars and vendors.

He applauded the government’s new effort. “It is better if the authorities contain the problem because tourists spend thousands of dollars to visit Cam­bodia,” he said.

Beggars and vendors oftn disturb the tourists as guides are trying to explain the history of the temple, he said.

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