Angkor Heritage Management Framework
The APSARA National Authority (ANA), the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, is collaborating with the Australian Government, an Australian heritage consulting firm (Godden Mackay Logan) and UNESCO – to prepare a Heritage Management Framework for Angkor. The project will assist in conserving the heritage values of Angkor, improving visitor experiences and providing benefits to the local community. The project also aims to improve governance, alleviate rural poverty and contribute towards environmental sustainability and economic development.
The Heritage Management Framework includes the preparation of a multi-layered Risk Map for Angkor. This Risk Map will include identification of factors that pose potential threats to the monuments, tourists, local community and to ecosystems in the Angkor World Heritage Park. The Risk Map will also identify opportunities for new proposals and facilitate good decision making. The Risk Map will become an important tool, which can be used to achieve visitor safety, monument conservation, ecosystem health and community involvement.
ANA, UNESCO and the Godden Mackay Logan project team will consult with relevant stakeholders. These range from tourism operators and local villages to the various international teams working at Angkor, international experts, Government agencies and the different Departments within ANA itself. The Heritage Management Framework process will be interactive and consultative as cooperation between people and agencies will ensure the success of the project.
Tourism Management Plan
A Tourism Management Plan will be developed for Angkor as part of the Heritage Management Framework. With visitors arriving in ever-increasing numbers, a long-term plan for tourism management at Angkor is essential. The Tourism Management Plan will initially focus on current challenges, then analyse options and propose solutions. The plan will involve analysis of visitor routes and activities, the placement of parvis and other facilities, alternative visitor experiences and engagement with key players involved in the tourism sector.
Pilot Studies, at selected sites, will be used to test and refine some of the elements of the Tourism Management Plan and overall Heritage Management Framework. The pilot study projects will help to establish or develop local tourism projects. They will also improve heritage management at the local level and should bring direct benefits to associated communities. The pilot studies will demonstrate how the Heritage Management Framework will operate to government and the community.
The Angkor HMF project has recognised the need for integration of past and current environmental data within a multidisciplinary Risk Map. Environmental factors interact with the physical fabric of the Angkor heritage site and can be representative of social indicators such as visitation patterns. An understanding of such factors is important for management of the site. Change in air pollution is one environmental factor that can have important implications for tourism and the long-term conservation of monuments. The proposed pilot project will contribute to the monitoring of air pollution. Air pollution data has been collected at Angkor since 2005 in collaboration with Kanazawa University under the project Environment Research Development Angkor, Cambodia (ERDAC). Research has shown the significance of monitoring air pollution, the correlation with increasing visitor numbers and, thus, its important contribution to site management. The APSARA National Authority has identified the need for automatic analysers for air pollution within the Angkor Park. The proposed pilot project will help obtain this equipment, and demonstrate how air pollution data is represented in a Risk Map and can contribute to improved site management.
The Beng Mealea temple will be re-presented as a special experience for visitors that showcases and illustrates the key elements of an Angkorian community along one of the Royal roads that linked Angkor to other areas in the Khmer Empire. Located on the Royal road to Bakan (known as Preak Khan Kampong Svay), Beng Mealea provides a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the elements of an Angkorian community within a relatively small area, including a main temple, baray and hydrological system, hospital, rest house, stone quarries, bridges and other prasats. The project will identify opportunities for the local community to gain greater benefit from tourism to Beng Mealea and assist in delivering a unique experience that emphasises local social and spiritual values, and the links between the ancient site and contemporary Khmer culture. The pilot project will adopt an integrated temple model to improve the management and conservation of the Beng Mealea Group using an integrated values-based management approach to landscape and monument conservation, community development, interpretation and tourism management.
Natural Circuit at North Baray
The Natural Circuit at North Baray Pilot Project will provide and communicate new visitor attractions and offers, with a focus on natural heritage. The project involves assisting community representatives from Leang Dai and Phlong villages with the operation of new products developed as part of the Natural Circuit at North Baray Pilot and providing training on how community representatives will operate the new products. Where required, new facilities such as a jetty and boats will be constructed. An Interpretation Strategy will be developed for Natural Circuit at North Baray and interpretation facilities will be designed and installed. A marketing strategy will be prepared and there will be appropriate communication and promotion of new products to the tourism industry.
The experience of watching the sunset is a key attraction for visitors to Angkor. The vast majority of visitors come to Phnom Bakheng temple for this experience and in recent years growing numbers have been watching the sunset from the Pre Rup temple. There is a need to diversify visitor experiences at sunset, as large visitor numbers at Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup contribute to congestion, reduce the quality of the visitor experience and create physical pressure on significant features. There are also safety concerns for visitors at these sites, especially when they are climbing down from the monuments following sunset. And yet, the Angkor World Heritage Park is vast and offers a huge range of potentially enthralling and appropriate vantage points for memorable sunset experiences. Spreading the sunset experience around the Park would lessen the impacts on both temples and could enhance visitor experiences. The challenge is how to alter the visitor behaviour in a way which is supported by the tourism industry, is appreciated by tourists, does not disrupt local communities, and prevents damage to infrastructure and natural and cultural resources.
The Heritage Management Framework will build capacity within ANA. ANA staff will participate in the development and implementation of the project. A high level project Steering Committee will guide and advise the project and a Technical Working Group comprised of ANA staff will gain important skills and experience. As the project progresses, training needs will be identified and addressed and learning opportunities will be extended to ANA personnel involved in ‘front line’ delivery of services at the Angkor monuments.