July 1, 2011
Visitors to Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple, a World Heritage Site, declined 40 percent in the first half this year, compared with the same period last year, due to border conflict with Thailand, the chief of Preah Vihear provincial tourism department said Thursday.
The department recorded a total of 27,980 tourists to the temple from January to June this year, down from 46,400 visitors in the same period last year.
"Most visitors to the temple are Cambodians; they are still scared to see the temple because of repeated deadly clashes," said Kong Vibol.
However, he said the number of foreign tourists was on the rise, as 1,095 foreign tourists visited the temple in the first six months, up 128 percent from a year earlier.
"It's a sharp rise in foreign tourists to the temple in May and June after the armed clashes between Cambodia and Thailand died down," he said.
"Cambodia hopes that the Preah Vihear temple will soon become the country's second largest tourism destination after Angkor Wat temples if there is no more military clash with Thailand."
Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near the Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the 11th century temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.