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New heritage status for Cambodian temple a likely boon for rural tourism
Marissa Carruthers, Phnom Penh, July 13, 2017

The addition of Sambor Prei Kuk as Cambodia's third and newest UNESCO World Heritage Site last Saturday is expected to drive tourism to the country's less explored regions.


The site, a collection of 50 pre-Angkorian temples sitting between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Kampong Thom province, has till now either been “mostly ignored” or treated as a short add-on while transiting between the two cities, said Kimhean Pich, founder and CEO of Discover the Mekong.


Among the Sambor Prei Kuk ruins 


With the new title, travel agents and tour operators are more likely to prioritise the attraction and tourism in the province, he continued.


Khiri Travel is one operator that has included the site in its tours, pushing Sambor as a stopover on land journeys between Siem Reap and the capital. The DMC has also developed a series of homestays and community-based ecotourism projects at nearby Isan Borei.


Miles Gravett, Khiri general manager, said: “With (upgraded) roads and this new recognition, more people will opt for the overland route, particularly in the green season when the Kampong Thom countryside is a sea of green rice fields and sugar palm trees, the iconic image of Cambodia's heartland.”


The UNESCO status is expected to play a role in preserving the ancient site, said Chin Meankung, founder of Cambodian Experiences. “Hopefully, the temple will have enough funds (for preservation) and be a big boost to the local economy through tourism.”


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