1Student: Maiko YoshidaMr. SheridanTSEA (4)May 20, 2011 Tourism Out of ControlAngkor was described as the “foremost jewel of Southeast Asian tourism,” and acultural magnet, attracting visitors from around the world. It is said that “By 2020, SiemReap will become a ‘beautiful and unique tourist city based on a harmony of history,arts and Khmer culture” (Vannarith). From the 9th to 15th centuries, the temples belonged to the ancient empire ofAngkor. The Khmer kings built the temples as religious shrines and emblems ofpolitical power (Fawthrop). In 1992 Angkor Wat was designated a World Heritage Siteby United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) andbecame one of the spectacular tourist attractions in Cambodia (Fawthrop). A great manytourists come to Cambodia in recent years to see those temples. Even though thenumber of tourists in Cambodia in 2003 was only 270,000, a million visitors went therejust three years later (Fawthrop). They are especially the middle and high societytourists from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, Thailand, United States and Europe(Chheang). For Cambodia, tourism is recognized as large sector of industry income.Nowadays, however, it is going to be a serious problem that traditional temples inCambodia are destroyed due to mass tourism. UNESCO’s top official at Angkor said,“We are very concerned by this unprecedented, uncontrolled acceleration, which is
2damaging the monuments and the local environment” (Smith). Therefore, even thoughsome argue that tourism brings social and economic benefits, the whole country will notsurvive the invasion of mass tourism because of social, economic and environmentproblems. Advocates of Cambodia’s policies on tourism state that it brings many socialbenefits. For the demands of tourists, the government has built more and moreelectricity and water supply facilities (Chheang). The government thinks that tourismhelps to improve local infrastructure and makes people live comfortably andconveniently (Vannarith). Second, tourism brings many jobs to Cambodians. Itprovided 200,000 jobs to Cambodian people in 2005, but it brought 250,000 jobs in2006 (Chheang). Tourism brings many jobs such as selling entry tickets to the templesite (Chheang). Thus, it can be said that as tourists increase, the number of people whocan get employment also increase. The government predicts that tourism economy isexpected to grow by 5.5 % per annum between 2009 and 2018. It will give 1,121,000jobs, which occupies 15.4 % of total employment, to Cambodian in 2018 (Chheang).Third, due to the importance of tourism, the government has made education a toppriority. Universities across the country have opened courses on tourism for vocationalstudents up to students doing master degrees. The Ministry of Tourism supports theseprograms and trains tour guides. Students who are successful in their studies receivetour guide licenses from the ministry (Chheang). People who become official tourguides can earn good salaries and have a good standard living. With all of these changes,proponents of Cambodia’s policies on tourism claim that tourism brings many social
3benefits. While it is true that mass tourism brings social benefits, there are more socialdisadvantages to the nation. First of all, the big concern is that there is discrimination ofemployment between males and females. There are great number differences ofemployment between them. For example, the government trains 66 females and 918males for English translators. In the case of Japanese translators, even though 489 malesare trained, only 164 females are taught (Chheang). This fact shows that females lessget chance to be employed even though tourism brings those jobs to the local people.Secondly, there is a traffic problem for local people who live in Siem Reap. Now, theyhave to make a detour route because they are denied to access much used public roadsafter 6 a.m. They are worried that accessing in daytime will be also denied toCambodians (Boland). Those problems make them to use a more circuitous route. Itabsolutely wastes of time for them. Thirdly, for Cambodian people, education andpublic health services are neglected. (Boland). For workers, they cannot getcompensation even though they get injured on their duty (Vannarith). Also, in SiemReap, there are only 363 primary schools and 13 secondary schools (Boland). That iswhy illiteracy people are increasing in many parts of the poor province. Poor peoplecannot get the job because they are lack of education and trainings (Vannarith). Inaddition, the government banned local children to sell postcards, trinkets and cold drinkat temples because they were considered to be annoying the tourists (Boland). With allof these, it can be assumed that female and children are completely disregarded bygetting more and more tourists.
4 The Cambodian government argues that tourism brings great economicbenefits to the nation. Many economists claim that growth, wealth and improvement ofliving standard are brought by tourism (Fawthrop). For instance, after agriculture andthe garment industry, the third largest sector of economy was tourism. Then, after thegarment industry, tourism became the second largest sector of income (Chheang). Inaddition, the benefit of tourism occupied only 13 percent of GDP, which was US$832million in 2005. But in 2006, this increased to US$1,594 million, which was 16 percentof GDP. It is predicted that the total amount of income will reach US$1,705.7 millionsby 2018 (Chheang). There are some people who are glad of increasing number oftourists. Ra Pheap, who works at Angkor Wat as a garbage sweeper appreciate masstourism because she can get much more salary every month (Munthit). Suos Sammangis another person who is pleased at this situation. She is a souvenir vendor and canmake living because tourists arrive everyday (Munthit). Above all, the governmentbelieves tourism brought a large amount of income and helped local people to get largeearnings. Despite the fact that tourism may bring some economic benefits to Cambodia,the truth is that tourism creates more economic hardships than it solves. At first, thepoverty is the most concerned problem. The benefits by tourism do not distributeequally to people so that poor are left out of distribution of profits (Chheang). LocalCambodian can get a small share of it. Only international hotels, travel agency andbusiness companies make benefits so poor farmers get few benefits of hotel expansioneven though the government sets up many hotels or guesthouses (Fawthrop). The worst
5fact is that not enough money goes back to the Cambodian people (Boland). 80 % ofevery tourist’s dollar leaks out of the country so that only 20 % of benefits go back tolocal people (Fawthrop). The gap between poor and rich makes poor residents who livein Siem Reap been pushed out. Land prices and food prices have been increasingdramatically so poor cannot survive rising costs and increasing rents (Fawthrop). Theaverage salary of the hotel restaurant staffs is about US$60 per month. Although itseems better to them, they cannot save money because of increasing living cost drivenby tourism (Vannarith). In case of construction workers, they can earn about US$3 perday and can save only US1.5 for their families. (Vannarith). Therefore, it is obvious thatmaking their living is really hard for them. In addition, tourism industries are veryvulnerable to external markets and demands. In 1997, the number of tourists dropped218 million compared to the year before . The reasons of this are political instability inthe aftermath of the armed conflict and the Asian financial crisis. The number oftourism dropped again because of the SARS epidemic in 2003. Lastly, politicalinstability in Thailand, which is the conflict between the red shirts and yellow shirts, isimpacting the industry in Cambodia, too (Chheang). Therefore, it is hard to say thattourism industry is stable economically whatever happens. Most importantly, mass tourism has been destroying the environment ofCambodia day by day. The Cambodian government is building more high ways, roads,electric power plants, water supply and international airports for tourism. Firstly,because a lot of tourists come to Cambodia, too many planes are flying very near thetemples. The masonries of temples are strained and damaged by them (Fawthrop).
6Secondly, at the famous temples in every morning, tourists climb up the narrowstaircases for viewing a sunset, which cause the temple damage (Smith). Thirdly,because the number of tourists is increasing, more than 100 hotels were built in recentfew years. In order to construct new toilets and showers, a lot of water is suddenlyneeded (Fawthrop). Those large amounts of water for building showers and toilets arefrom the underground (Boland). The Bayon temple, which sits on sand, is suddenlysinking because much underwater is being pumped away. It causes this temple collapse(Fawthrop). The government does not care about using much water, disposal of sewageand environmental preserve (Fawthrop). Also, the World Bank warns that water ispolluted by sewage, which flow into the river from the hotels directly (Smith). The onething they should do at first is to preserve the park for the future generation (Smith). Forthe reason stated above, mass tourism causes destroy the environment of Cambodia. While mass tourism brings social and economic benefits, it causes more social,economic and environmental problems. Unless the government of Cambodia takes someaction, Cambodia’s worth temples are going to be collapsed forever because thegovernment cannot control increasing the number of tourists. The director of tourism atAngkor said that they are finalizing control of visitors, at last. Surely, the governmentmust consider this problem seriously and come up with a better solution. Thegovernment has to take some actions for pretending to destroy Cambodia’s spectacletemples. In order to have sustainable tourism, experiences of tourists and localparticipation in the tourism industry are needed.
7 Work CitedBoland, Rosita. “Nothing Sacred for the Tourists.” ireland.com. Development Cooperation Ireland, Development of Foreign Affairs, 28 Mar. 2005. Web. 29 Apr. 2011.Chheang, Vannarith. “Tourism Development in Cambodia: Opportunities for Japanese Companies.” ide.co.jp. N.p, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2011.Fawthrop, Tom. “Will Angkor Wat survive the invasion of mass tourism?” twnside.org.sg. Heritage Watch, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.Munthit, Ker. “Tourism boom brings hope, worry to Cambodia’s tourist hub.” usatoday.com. USA TODAY, 30 Nov. 2006. Web. 23 Apr. 2011.Smith, Justine. “Tourist invasion threatens to ruin glories of Angkor Wat.” guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media Limited, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.Vannarith, Chheang. “Angkor Heritage Tourism and the Issues of Sustainability: a Traiangular Perceptions Perspective.” r-cube.ritsumei.ac.jp. N.p. n.d. Web. 14 May. 2011.