Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tourism provides up to 75% of Cambodia's foreign currency

Some interesting facts and figures from The Independent's "The Dark Side of Angkor's Night Visit" :

- Recent figures show a 14 per cent drop in visitors to the town of Siem Reap, where Angkor is located, compared with last year.

- Foreign tourism is hugely important to Cambodia, reportedly providing up to 75 per cent of its foreign currency earnings.

- Around 50 per cent of all tourists to the country end up visiting the temple complex, six hours' drive north of the capital Phnom Penh.

- Angkor was removed from Unesco's World Heritage in Danger list in 2004, but [...] last year, Unesco raised concerns about the impact that the growth of Siem Reap was having on Angkor's foundations.

The UN organisation said that a surge in demand for water had led to a massive increase in the amount of groundwater being pumped. Philippe Delanghe, the culture programme specialist at Unesco's Phnom Penh office, said: "There is a very important balance between the sand and water on which the temple is built. And if that balance is taken away then we might have trouble with collapse."

Angkor is believed to have been built as a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II to honour the Hindu god Vishnu. The sandstone blocks from which it was constructed were quarried more than 30 miles away and floated down the Siem Reap river

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