Despite Tourism, Poverty Wracks Siem Reap

siem reap province – If the goal is to fight poverty, then development in Siem Reap seems to be heading in the wrong direction, said Ger­man Ambassador Pius Fischer.

Despite tourism growth, Siem Reap province remains one of the poorest regions in the country, Fischer said at the 11th plenary session of the International Co­ordinating Committee of Ang­kor on Dec 17.

At the last ICC session in Octo­ber 1993 in Paris, political representatives from 35 countries and 12 international and UN organizations decided efforts to preserve Angkor would include economic development in the province.

Japan and France initiated the creation of the committee in 1993 with the UN Educational, Scien­tific and Cultural Organization handling its secretariat. Its goal has been to help Cambodia manage the Angkor Archeological Park according to World Heri­tage standards agreed to by Cam­bodia when Angkor made the heritage list in 1992.

Those standards include strict

—though often ignored—construction restrictions in the park.

Vice-Prime Minister Sok An stressed the government’s intention to prevent illegal construction and protect the site. But opportunities should not be missed, he said.

Sok An, president of Apsara Auth­ority, the government agency in charge of Angkor, made it clear that decisions would be up to Ap­sara once international and national studies had been submitted.

New studies will include a development study funded by the Japanese government that will factor in urban growth, the protection of the environment and the conservation of Angkor monuments, and a Belgian project to fund health and education for Siem Reap’s poor through a percentage of the park’s admission fees.

The ICC also announced the creation of a committee of development experts to assist Apsara in its new development role, in the same way a committee of restoration experts has advised the agency in conservation matters since 1993. This announcement was followed by a private meeting between Sok An, Unes­co and ICC representatives.

Until now, urban development has proceeded without planning.

 

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