Minister Slams Plan for Slippers at Angkor Wat

Minister of Tourism Lay Pro­has Mon­day condemned tentative plans put forward by the government’s Apsara Authority to require all tourists visiting Ang­kor Wat to pur­chase disposable plastic slippers.

Lay Prohas was responding to talks he said have occurred be­tween Ap­sa­ra and South Korean firm CCK Corp­oration over CCK’s plan to sell man­da­tory $3.80 plastic slippers to all visitors to Angkor Wat. The slippers would cost $4.56 with tax, said Ho Van­dy, president of the Cambodian As­sociation of Tra­vel Agents.

“My ministry will reject any plan aimed at asking foreigners for money for a pair of anti-erosion shoes to walk in Angkor,” Lay Prohas said. “I don’t see any country in the world using this meth­od to protect stone,” he said.

Lay Prohas said the pricey com­pulsory footwear would deter some tourists. To address concerns that the stone walkways of the Angkor tem­ples are being worn away, Lay Prohas proposed laying outdoor carpets on them instead.

He also said that a plan to burn the used “anti-erosion” slippers dai­ly would pollute the environment.

Apsara Director-General Bun Narith said no contract has been signed with the Korean firm, though talks are now at the cost stage. “The negotiation is on price,” he said. “The Korean company wants to sell at a high price but it is not acceptable.”

He said Apsara, which manages Angkor, would like to start a tem­porary trial of the slippers in three months time, but would first consult the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiz­ation about wheth­­er the slippers would stem erosion.

Ho Vandy said that if slippers are necessary, a local rather than a foreign firm should make them.

In June 2005, Apsara Authority Dep­u­ty Director General Tep Henn said the slipper contract with CCK had been signed “a long time ago” and that only the details were still being worked out. CCK officials could not be reached for comment.

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