Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preah Vihear's future

Preah Vihear in 2002 without any tourists
The Cambodia Daily has a news article on Preah Vihear today, in which I get a small soundbite. The front page feature talks up the future of Preah Vihear now that the Thai and Khmer troops have pulled back and that the new road from Siem Reap via Anlong Veng has cut the journey time down to 3 hours. It also focuses on the town of Sra'em, where Paramount Angkor Express has a bus delivering customers from Phnom Penh daily and where guesthouses are springing up, now that the village of Kor Muoy, at the foot of the mountain, has been dismantled. My comments recognised the importance of the improved infrastructure but sounded a note of caution over the current military situation:

Despite signs of detente between the Thai and Cambodian governments, the temple remains a conflict zone. Andy Brouwer, product manager for Hanuman, a tour agency in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that while the new road made tour visits "much more feasible," the temple needed permanent peace to reach its full tourism potential. "Until the two sides categorically state that they are no longer squabbling or fighting over Preah Vihear, then it's always going to remain a potential trouble spot that could go downhill at any stage," Mr Brouwer said.

Essentially we need to avoid false dawns as far as Preah Vihear is concerned. The troops may've pulled back but I don't hear of any peace treaty being signed or the Thai government stating publicly that the military stand-off won't flair up again, which means that the situation remains fragile. That will be a concern to many foreign tourists who will shy away from a potential trouble spot due to safety concerns. And rightly so. We all want Preah Vihear to flourish as a tourism magnet, but people must be aware of the situation they are entering before they go and without their safety being assured, many will stay away.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you !

December 15, 2010 at 2:19 PM  
Anonymous James said...

How long does it take to go from Siem Reap to Preah Vihear?

Are the Cambodia army still up there and are they tourist friendly?

December 16, 2010 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Sorry pushed the button too quickly:

I mean how long does it take to get there, visit properly and come back?

December 16, 2010 at 4:00 PM  

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