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Uncontrolled growth of tourism

Bangkok, Thailand
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Uncontrolled growth of tourism

I recently returned to Siem Reap for the first time since about six years ago. I had worked, lived and traveled all over Cambodia for several years starting in the late 80’s up to the early 2000 years and for extended periods of time and have seen the entire country improve in safety and grow economically, especially from the upsurge of tourism. I now reside in Thailand and have been here for over 20 years. My latest trip to Siem Reap however, was a total disappointment as it became quickly noticeable that tourism was and is growing at an unchecked level, especially the increased numbers of hotels and the absolute over saturated number of tourists. The road from the airport to the center of town was completely lined with huge hotels and there were now traffic jams. The absurd amount of tourists and tour buses was unbelievable. The various temples were so crowded with tourists that it was very difficult to obtain so “original” photos. Thankfully, we began our tour at the “back end” and reversed our travels and thus ran into less disturbing crowds. Angkor Wat had several areas closed off for restoration and it was no longer possible to climb the steep stairs to the top. Where once it had taken quite a long, tedious drive to get to Banteay Srei over narrow and rough roads there now is a 4 lane super highway right to the front gate! When we visited it there were over 20 tour buses already there and more full ones coming. Thank goodness there were less people opting for the climb up Kbal Spean but they have just about completed another 4 lane highway directly to it and I would imagine that soon there will be some sort of electrical cable car installed to supplement the rather rigorous hike up the mountain. I am all for improving tourist facilities however, to let tourism grow and spiral out of control without any checks is not the way to go about it, at least in my mind. All I can say is that I am happy that I had seen these marvelous temple ruins earlier and closer and when there were much fewer people around. Although tourist facilities were still rather basic back then(although 5 star hotels had already begun operating) at least things were clean and managed in a controlled and acceptable manner. I, for one, will not choose to go back under the current circumstances.

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New Zealand
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11. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

Hi Dikthai, Stowgray is not the friend I referred to. Once more you jump to conclusions.

And perhaps before you jump to more, you could check your facts. My user name is Jimshu.

I am not an expert on Cambodia.But when I travel I do not just look.I enquire and try and get under the skin of a country.

And you , with all your experience there, rather than bemoaning the 'adsurd amount of tourists..' should realise just how important our dollars are to that country.

I am surprised at your vast experience with Cambodia, and it's people, that you feel that tourism is so detrimental.

For instance, all those hotels along the Airport road.Tell me, where else would you want them?Seems to me that's the best place for them.

Oh and how are tourism control plans to be effectively administered, when there are not enough people trained in these fields in Cambodia?

I have seen more than 20 tour buses parked outside tourists spots around the world.What I saw there did not strike me as too many.

I quite understand your disapoiuntment when one travels back to a place of fond memories and find' absurd amounts of tourists' climbing around.But that is tourism.That's what happens.

Perhaps it's better to not go back....

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12. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

jimshu, I am one of the "absurd" hordes terribly excited about going to cambodia in June. And I think you have been the voice of reason in this discussion :) I have been trying to be more thrifty so I can spend more over in Cambodia since I figured that country needs my money more than where I am now.

Cardiff, United...
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13. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

There was an article in This weeks Independent about over tourism in Siem Reap and its likely impact.

Apparently there is a real danger over water shortages and the constant demand for more may have an imapct on the temples.

New Zealand
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14. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

Thanks for the support Emaleth. And have you got a link to that report CelticWarrior?

I have been wondering should I invite Dikthai to come on my next travel experience?

Since he wants to see sights away from everyone.

3 weeks in Namibia coming up for me.But I will spend that time in the Namib Desert,interacting with locals, building a rock wall around a well, and tracking desert elephants.

I can assure Dikthai, there will be less than 20 tour buses parked around Spritzkop. And there certainly will not be 'absurd amounts of tourists..' climbing Mt Brandeburg.And there will not be hordes of humanity tramping all over the desert.

Just the sort of place you'd like there mate.

Sign up here- www.desertelephant.org

But please remember Dikthai, that when I want to take a photo, jump out of the way....

New Zealand
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15. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

I have been trying online to find what plan for development exists for this World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.But came across this ex Wikipedia-

The influx of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage, other than some graffiti; ropes and wooden steps have been introduced to protect the bas-reliefs and floors, respectively. Tourism has also provided some additional funds for maintenance—approximately 28% of ticket revenues across the whole Angkor site is spent on the temples—although most work is carried out by foreign government-sponsored teams rather than by the Cambodian authorities.[47]

So it could be argued, that we tourists are the key to protection, renovation and development of these sites.

New York City, New...
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16. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

So, what do you think about the huge change in Thailand????

I was just back for the first time since 1997 and was shocked! Not talking about Bangkok, which was pretty shocking itself... But, I didnt recognize Chiang Rai at all. And, Chiang Saen and Mae Sai were completely built up! The last time I passed through Sop Ruak there was the Golden Triangle sign and a few umbrellas on the side of the road selling Thai Coca Cola and Golden Triangle shirts. Now????

And, do you really think the Khmai's should be sitting on this amazing resource - keeping it dusty and pristine instead of capitalizing on it to rebuild their society?

Was at Angkor a month ago and pretty surprised how uncrowded it was, compared with Machu Picchu, Tikal or any of the Mayan ruins in Mexico. When the Chinese start traveling in droves, it will be a different matter.

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17. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

Exactly-quote-And, do you really think the Khmai's should be sitting on this amazing resource - keeping it dusty and pristine instead of capitalizing on it to rebuild their society?

I guess the question is how?

And while I agree with the basic spirit of Dikthai's original question in his post, I disagree with his condemnatory attitude to tourists.Had it been a better crafted post, we'd be talking more agreeably.I apologise for taking you to task Dikthai.

I have checked out World Heritage Sites and joined them and am able to report that there is a plan for the protection, preservation, and development of Angkor Wat under an administration called APSARA.


You may want to explore the work they do here.

I note they talk about introducing electric vehicles- I guess our tuk tuk driver put us wrong when he said electrinc rail cars.

But the question is still the same...if electric vehicles are introduced, and tuk tuks banned from the site, what happens to all those drivers and their livelihoods ?

Will there be financial assistance to enable them to purchase an electric vehichle?

Or will vested interests, take control of the companies that supply the vehicles ?

And the driver be worse off?

18. Re: Uncontrolled growth of tourism

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