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Cambodia's Battambang could soon be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Cambodia's tourism officials and Battambang provincial government representatives have been in talks with UNCESCO aimed at adding Battambang- Cambodia's second most populous city - to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Should it be inscribed it will join the likes of Angkor Wat, which is currently Cambodia's most popular tourist attractions and has been inscribed to the Heritage list since 1992.

Cambodia's Battambang could soon be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Cambodia's tourism officials and the Battambang provincial government have been in talks with UNESCO about plans to list Battambang as one of the World Heritage Cities. If successful Battambang will be the third UNESCO Heritage site in Cambodia, joining the company of Angkor Wat and the Temple of Preah Vihear which were inscribed in 1992 and 2008 respectively.

Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO country director for Cambodia, explained:

"We are discussing the listing of Battambang as a UNESCO heritage city… Battambang has potential... the UNESCO framework will encourage more tourists to visit the town and province by linking the preservation of cultural heritage and nature with developing tourist attractions".

Thanks to its unique blend of small town charm and its enchanting architecture featured in its ancient colonial buildings, pagodas and temples Battambang is already popular attraction with local tourists, and certainly has all the characteristics needed to be at the top of any must see list when travellers book their holidays in Cambodia, right along with Angkor Wat. Were it to be inscribed in the UNESCO Heritage list, Lemaistre has estimated that the Battambang could attract as many as one million tourists each year.

Cambodia recently announced a growth in its tourism sector with 1.2 million visitors in the first quarter of 2014 and 8.2 per cent increase quarter on quarter. Remarkably, Cambodia had 4 million arrivals in 2013, a steady increase over the past two decades with just 120,000 in 1993. Much of this growth has been owed to the UNCESCO World Hertiage site Angkor Wat.

The growth has only spurred on the key stakeholders in Cambodia's tourism industry. President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, Ang Kim Eang, has noted that while the recent figures are encouraging there is still work to be done. He commented:

"Cambodia needs more quality infrastructure, such as bridge, national road and road leading to the remote tourism destinations, at the same time, staff need to be trained in tourism and hospitality course".

Indeed Battambang's provincial governor, Chan Sophal, has assured that in order to facilitate the development of Battambang as a top tourist attraction efforts would be made to improve accessibility to the city.

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