The Cambodian government will develop the Preah Vihear temple near the border with Thailand into a tourism spot in an effort to reach the goal of attracting 3 million tourists annually by 2010, local press reported Tuesday.
“Tourists will not be able to reach the Preah Vihear temple if the potential area is not developed,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times as saying during his recent visit there.
Hang Soth, general director of the newly-established Preah Vihear National Authority, said that roads and infrastructure should be developed first so as to attract tourists.
“The aim of our development is to attract tourists and preserve the temple,” he said.
The temple is expected to rival the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province after development is completed, he added.
Thailand and Cambodia used to dispute over who owned the temple. But recently, the Thai government has said that it would not oppose Cambodia’s bid to list the temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Preah Vihear temple was built from year 900 to 1100. It was occupied by Thailand from 1949 to 1952. In 1962, the Hague International Court decided that the ownership of the temple went to Cambodia.