Cambodia has eyed temples and cultural sites in Preah Vihear Province as another potential tourism boost for the country.
Delivering a speech to the launch of students contests in Phnom Penh on Thursday, Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, said Preah Vihear Province, located about 500 kilometers north of Phnom Penh, is another potential tourism sites.
He said, in addition to Preah Vihear Temple, registered as World Heritage Site in 2008, there are about 200 more temples in the province, plus many other natural sites that include the special kind of birds.
He said giant ibis, a kind of rare bird, is currently near extinction with about 500 recorded worldwide, but in Cambodia alone there are about 200 and they are living in Preah Vihear province.
Sok An also said seeing the province as another tourist destination in the country, the government has spent nearly 100 million U.S. dollars to improve the infrastructure through the building and renovation of the roads and bridges linking from other neighboring provinces.
Civil war has left the province poor in infrastructure and many of the tourism sites there are not accessible.
For Preah Vihear Temple, Sok An said it now becomes one of the most attractive sites for both local and foreign tourists, adding that two days ago, about 200 visitors went to the Temple.
Tourism plays an increasingly important role in Cambodia’s national, economical and social development.
It is the country’s top priority to build and develop the necessary tourism infrastructure to help drive this industry forward.
Cambodia saw 2,161,577 visitors in 2009, up 1.7 percent, while at the same time world tourism in general declined by 4.3 percent on average, and Asian tourism increased by only 0.9 percent.