Plans for sprawling resort near Cambodia’s Angkor heritage site sparks concern from UNESCO

The close proximity of a super-sized, attraction-stuffed resort complex planned for northwest Cambodia’s Siem Reap province to revered archeological site Angkor has put UNESCO and other conservation groups on high alert.

Described as “one of the most important archeological sites in Southeast Asia” by UNESCO, Angkor—home to the famed 12th-century Buddhist temple complex Angkor Wat and a network of ancient hydrological engineering systems—was named a World Heritage Site in 1992. To be constructed near the archeological park’s outer southern boundaries, the 187.5-acre mega-resort is set to feature a long list of tourist-snaring attractions (in addition to multiple hotels) including a water park, an indoor “digital theme park,” botanical gardens, a scenic canal cruise, and a “Siem Reap China Town” entertainment and retail district. The first phase of the development, due to be complete by 2025, has been likened to Disneyland with a Khmer twist.

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