The Ministry of Tourism and travel agencies have urged the local authorities in Siem Reap town to force hotel owners to build private waste water treatment facilities to cut down on pollution, officials said on Tuesday.
Currently, only a few luxury hotels have their own water treatment facilities even though the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction has pressed all hotels to treat their own water, said Kousoum Saroeuth, director-general for the Ministry of Tourism.
“I smell waste sometimes [in Siem Reap town],” Kousoum Saroeuth said.
Sathol Miyura, general-manager of Apex Travel, agreed with Kousoum Saroeuth, saying that Cambodian officials needs to educate local business leaders and tourists to care more for the environment.
“The drainage systems in Siem Reap are not good enough, and I’m concerned that the waste could flood Siem Reap town or even back up into the hotel’s rooms if no action is taken,” he said, adding that the temples of Angkor are also endangered by tourists who throw out food waste and cigarette butts near the temples.
To combat some of these waste problems, the Asian Development Bank recently promised to provide $3 million for the renovation of a drainage system in Siem Reap town, Kousoum Saroeuth said. The agreement, signed on Dec 12, will be formalized in February 2003, he said.
The rapid development in Siem Reap has also hurt the water supplies in Siem Reap town, Sathol Miyura said. Citing a study by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, he said that many hotels in the city built large wells and pump water from underground water sources—a potential danger if the underground aquifers under the temples of Angkor Wat temples collapse.
“I’m very concerned about the water resources that have been taken by hotels in Siem Reap,” he said. “One day, some of the temples could fall or collapse, then we would face a big problem.”