PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has joined hands with Australia in an effort to use the Internet to help preserve its fabled Angkor Wat temple complex, the Australian Embassy announced Thursday.
As part of a master plan to limit damage to the complex, a recently opened website, Angkor Sunset Finder, will give tourists recommendations for where in the 400-square-kilometer (160-square-mile) complex one can watch spectacular sunsets.
A handful of well-publicized spots from which to watch the setting sun attract too many tourists, endangering the place’s physical and aesthetic integrity. The website at angkorsunsets.com allows visitors to select several criteria — including what kind of atmosphere, distance from gate and crowd conditions — to get a recommendation of alternative perches from a listing of 34 vantage points.
Built between the ninth and 14th centuries, Angkor is not only a symbol of national pride, emblazoned on the Cambodian flag, but is also the country’s biggest tourist attraction, receiving about 2 million visitors a year. It is one of the landmarks of international significance on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The website is part of an Australian-assisted Heritage Management Framework plan initiated in 2008 “in response to a dramatic increase in tourism, new environmental challenges and the rapid development of the communities neighboring Cambodia’s Angkor World Heritage Site,” the Australian Embassy said in a statement.
Angkor welcomed only 250,000 visitors as recently as 2001.