Angkor Wat remains Cambodia's number one tourist attraction.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:59 Thik Kaliyann
Siem Reap province
A Japanese organisation will review environmental standards at the Angkor Wat temple complex next month, measuring it against international standards for environmental management, officials said.
Chhor Thanat, deputy director general of the Apsara Authority, which manages the temple complex, said on Friday that the Japan Quality Assurance Organisation would conduct the audit in a bid to ensure the authority’s adherence to international Environmental Management Standards.
He said the Apsara Authority must fulfill 66 conditions involving the levels of waste and water pollution at Angkor Wat and nearby Siem Reap town in order to receive EMS certification from them in 2012.
“There were 65 conditions in 2010 and 66 for 2011. Next month the JQA will come to audit,” he said.
JQA’s audits of the Angkor temples and Siem Reap municipality are aimed at balancing the rapid growth of the town with principles of environmental conservation.
JQA issued the EMS certification that is now held by the Apsara Authority for Angkor Wat and Siem Reap town.
Chhor Thanat said that some environmental problems, such as the pollution of the Siem Reap River, stemmed from the sharp growth in the tourist industry over the past decade, with added waste coming from hotels, guesthouses and residential areas.
“Until 1993, the Siem Reap River still had clean water to drink and swim in,” he said.
Apsara Authority Director General Bun Narith said on Friday that out of 199 “world wonders”, Angkor Wat was the first to receive certification and it would be a shame for Cambodia to lose it.
“People around the world will think that the Authority in Siem Reap province didn’t focus on the environment in the Angkor Wat area to improve it,” he said.
“But if we have this certificate it will make countries around the world realise our environmental protection is up to standards.”
Bun Narith added that during a tourism industry seminar held in Siem Reap town last week, delegates were told that the EMS certification for protecting Angkor Wat represented three years’ worth of effort on the part of the Apsara Authority.