At a Glance
For a complete list of heritage-friendly businesses visit the Heritage Watch heritage friendly business directory.
The Kingdom of Cambodia welcomed over a million and a half tourists in 2006. And the Ministry of Tourism expects that the number of visitors will increase by 20% in 2007.
The main attraction?
Cambodia’s ancient heritage, specifically the Angkor Archaeological Complex in Siem Reap province. But the enigmatic temples that attract thousands of visitors every day are also continually threatened by looting.
Archaeologist Dougald O’Reilly, founder of the non-governmental organization Heritage Watch, has been working to protect Cambodia’s heritage by raising awareness of looting and its consequences. Since the organizations establishment in 2003, Heritage Watch has pursued its goal through a growing number of unique ideas and projects.
Their newest concept? Heritage friendly tourism.
With full support from the Ministry of Tourism and the Apsara Authority, Heritage Watch has declared the year 2007 ‘Heritage Friendly.’ The aim is to bring together locally based private, public and non-governmental sectors in a nationwide collaboration to promote responsible tourism, while encouraging businesses to promote the arts, culture, heritage and development projects in Cambodia. Each sector both fulfills and benefits from the campaign.
The campaign can be seen as an interdependent relationship between Heritage Watch, local businesses and tourists.
Heritage Watch certifies businesses as heritage friendly if they meet certain criteria. Heritage Watch then distributes guidelines on how to be a heritage friendly tourist to travel agencies, which then communicate these messages to their clients. The travel agencies also promote heritage friendly businesses as well as NGOs in the fields of arts, culture, preservation and archaeology.
Through this networking, Heritage Watch encourages tourists to prolong their visits to the Kingdom with exploration of less-traditional tourism pathways such as village tours, arts festivals and expositions, architecture tours, gala dinners, golf tournaments, seminars and expert-speaker tours.
Traveling full circle
As a tourist, being heritage friendly is as simple as being a good citizen. Tourists are encouraged to be respectful of the religious origins of the temples, to not touch the carvings or purchase ancient artifacts. Environmental friendliness is also encouraged: keep heritage sites clean, conserve water (the survival of the temple structures is dependent on a certain level of water in the ground), and use clean-energy transport near the temples when possible.
The final guideline is the link between tourists and businesses: patronize heritage friendly businesses.
The FCC applied for and received heritage-friendly status from Heritage Watch in January 2007.
The FCC contributes to Cambodian arts and culture through programming art exhibits, theatre and music performances, and media and communication-themed presentations.
The buildings of the FCC Phnom Penh, FCC Angkor, and Pacharan, a sister company, have all been sensitively restored according to their classical or modern designs remaining from the early to mid 20th century. By preserving the tangible architectural sites the FCC has also contributed to reviving the intangible heritage of cultural liveliness and elegance that defined 1960s Cambodia, when Phnom Penh was known as the “Pearl of Asia.”
To compliment and enrich the Heritage Friendly Tourism campaign, the web site www.heritagewatch.org and a free quarterly magazine, TouchStone, will promote the campaign’s aims while making accessible information and news on heritage research and development in Cambodia. Finally, by establishing the Heritage Watch Trust, the campaign will also support small NGOs and non-profit organizations in need.