Unesco-recognition For Cambodian Cities Still Faraway

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There has been little progress so far in Cambodia’s bid to get three of its most scenic cities recognised by Unesco as world heritage sites, according to high-ranking officials.

A colonial building in Battambang province. KT/Mai Vireak

Last year, Cambodia asked Unesco to classify Battambang, Kratie and Kampot as world heritage cities, as part of efforts to preserve traditional Khmer and French-colonial architecture.

The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts are working together in the bids.

Brak Sovannara, director general of heritage at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said they are now collecting data and surveying buildings in the three cities to prepare the applications that will be submitted to Unesco.

“The process is very long and progress is happening slowly,” Mr Sovannara told Khmer Times.

Uch Omthiny Sara, director of Battambang’s tourism department, said that they’ve been focusing on the preservation of colonial buildings.

“Local officials have been going around the province educating buildings owners about the cultural value of their properties, and most of them are cooperating,” Mr Sara said, adding that Battambang city now has about 800 colonial buildings.

Soy Sinol, director of the tourism department in Kampot, also says little has been achieved since Cambodia launched its bid last year.

“We’ve made little headway so far, but I hope that we can get the city recognised by Unesco because this will help attract more tourists,” Mr Sinol said.

“It is very important to preserve our cultural heritage and our beautiful old buildings because it makes the city a much more attractive tourist destination,” he said.

Kampot is home to about 300 colonial buildings.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.