Cambodian Government Relocates Villagers to Enhance Angkor Wat Tourism

The relocation may change or leave an impact on the residents’ livelihoods

The relocation is part of Cambodia’s aim to professionalise and improve the visitor experience. Muzhik/Shutterstock

The Cambodian government is relocating almost 10,000 people living in the Angkor Archaeological Park to improve the visitor experience and preserve the temples, including Angkor Wat, which is Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction, which tourism publisher Skift reported attracted over 280,000 international visitors in 2022. 

The government will provide residents with plots of land located far from the temple complex in exchange for their relocation, but if they refuse, the government will remove them forcibly and give them nothing. Some of the villages have been there for generations and developed businesses to service visitors as well as make their livelihood as farmers. Some have been moved already, and more will follow, but this time, more people are actually moving because they are scared. 

The relocation scheme is part of Cambodia’s aim to professionalise and improve the visitor experience at Angkor Wat as well as enhance the temple’s image. The relocated residents will have to largely rebuild at their own expense and will live far from the tourists, the source of their livelihoods.

Related:6 fascinating spots to check out in Kandal, Cambodia

Travel media company Karryon discussed the government’s recognition that some villages near the temples date back centuries, and said only recent unauthorised settlements had been targeted. Families have been given a 20mx30m plot of land, KHR31.42 million (USD350) cash, 30 pieces of tin roofing material and access to a welfare card, but will have to build their own houses. 

Angkor Wat is central to Cambodia’s identity and brings significant tourism and cash to the country, with an annual influx of two million tourists pre-pandemic. The relocation cuts these residents out of the tourism economy that has sprung up around Angkor Wat. UNESCO has said it never called for population displacements, and relocations should occur with the consent of the population concerned.

The Property Report editors wrote this article. For more information, email: [email protected].