Government officials said yesterday during a conference at the Council of Ministers that plans to create tourism infrastructure around Preah Vihear temple are moving forward as villagers are relocated from the World Heritage Site and its environs.
New roads from Siem Reap to the eleventh-century Hindu sanctuary, the focal point of Cambodia’s border dispute with Thailand, will facilitate the growth of tourism in Preah Vihear province, National Authority for Preah Vihear chairman Chuch Phoeun said. According to the NAPV’s numbers, about 200 tourists currently visit the site daily.
According to Mr Phoeun, 800 families that had been living near the temple have been relocated to Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune to clear the protected area around the temple, and 70 more families will soon be moved from the temple itself.
“It is a protected area so the seventy families cannot be allowed to live there,” said Mr Phoeun in reference to the Svay Chrum area, which lies inside the temple area.
Mr Phoeun added that the village the families will be moved to lies 13 km away from the temple, and that their absence would help “to maintain the natural architecture and landscape” of the area.
Kantuot commune chief Moul Map said yesterday that roughly 250 families have been living in the Svay Chrum area since 2002.
“The villagers living there have come from everywhere, especially Kampot and Takeo,” said Mr Map.
NAPV officials said yesterday that efforts to restore the temple, which is bullet-scarred and in disrepair in places, will continue to be a priority even as tourists begin to arrive in greater numbers.