Temple preservation is Wat's important to Cambodia

4th Jul 2013

Cambodia boasts one of the planet's most easily recognisable cultural sites.

But the distinctive Hindu and Buddhist Angkor Wat temple faces conservation challenges from the recent huge influx of tourists.

The 400-sq km (160-sq mile) complex is the first port of call for most holidaymakers on city breaks to Angkor and attracts legions of visitors from across the world.

It welcomed only 250,000 visitors as recently as 2001. This compares to today's two-million visitors a year.

A few well-publicised spots from which to watch the setting sun attract too many tourists, risking damage to the site.

That's why Cambodia has joined forces with Australia in a bid to use the internet to help preserve its legendary treasure.

The recently opened Angkor Sunset Finder website gives holidaymakers tips on where to watch spectacular sunsets as part of a master plan to restrict damage to the complex.

The website enables visitors to select criteria - including what kind of atmosphere, distance from gate and crowd conditions - to get a selection of alternative perches from a menu of 34 vantage points.

Angkor Wat is a symbol of national pride, emblazoned on the Cambodian flag, and one of the landmarks of international significance on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The website is part of an Australian-Cambodian plan launched in 2008 in response to a dramatic increase in tourism, new environmental challenges and the rapid development of the communities neighbouring the historic complex.

The website can be found be clicking on http://angkorsunsets.com/.

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