Unlocking Angkor Wat’s Splendor: Cambodia’s New Airport Sets the Stage for Tourism Boom

By Zarafshan Shiraz, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In a significant move to enhance Cambodia’s tourism infrastructure and preserve the cultural heritage of the Angkor Wat temple complex, the nation has officially opened its newest airport. The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, constructed at a cost of approximately $1.1 billion, is set to become a crucial gateway to Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most renowned historical sites.

The Retirement of the Old Airport

Cambodia opens a new airport to serve Angkor Wat as it seeks to boost tourist arrivals - Travelweek

The need for this modern airport was accentuated by concerns about the vibrations generated by frequent flights, which were deemed detrimental to the foundations of the ancient temples. The previous airport, located a mere 5 kilometers from the temple site, is now being retired to safeguard this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Key Features of the New Airport

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport will officially be launched in Oct 2023 | ASIA DMC

The new airport, situated about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Angkor Wat on a vast 700-hectare (1,730-acre) expanse of land, features an impressive 3,600-meter (11,810-foot) long runway. It has the capacity to serve 7 million passengers annually, with future plans to expand that number to 12 million passengers by 2040. The construction of this state-of-the-art facility was facilitated through a 55-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) partnership between Cambodia and China.

Boosting Tourism

Tourism is a fundamental pillar of Cambodia’s economy, and the new airport is expected to play a pivotal role in boosting tourist arrivals. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia welcomed approximately 3.5 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2023. This, however, is a substantial decrease compared to the 6.6 million foreign visitors recorded in 2019, the last year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening of international travel is expected to invigorate the tourism sector, providing a much-needed economic stimulus.

Inauguration and Future Projects

Deputy Prime Minister Vongsey Vissoth, who presided over the launch of the airport’s operations, announced that the official inauguration will take place on November 16. Prime Minister Hun Manet and high-ranking Chinese officials are slated to attend the ceremony, underscoring the significance of this partnership with China. Furthermore, a new airport is under construction, also funded by China, at a cost of $1.5 billion, to serve the capital city, Phnom Penh. The Techo International Airport, covering an expansive 2,600 hectares (6,425 acres), is projected to be completed in 2024.

The opening of the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport signifies a significant milestone in Cambodia’s commitment to the preservation of its cultural treasures while promoting tourism. This state-of-the-art facility is set to play a pivotal role in reinvigorating the nation’s tourism industry, offering a warm welcome to visitors from around the world to explore the magnificence of Angkor Wat and its rich historical heritage.

This article was originally published by Zarafshan Shiraz in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as reported by the Associated Press.

Exploring the Unseen Delights

How does tourism benefit Cambodia?

Tourism in Cambodia is a vital contributor to the nation’s socio-economic development, marked by the creation of job opportunities and alleviation of poverty. Recognized as a cornerstone of Cambodia’s economy, it holds significance on both a national and international scale. The Royal Government of Cambodia has embraced the profound potential of tourism, solidifying its role in propelling the country’s economic growth. Tourism’s manifold contributions include:

  • Job Creation: Tourism generates employment opportunities across a spectrum of sectors, from hospitality to transportation, enriching the livelihoods of countless Cambodians.

  • Poverty Alleviation: Through its myriad economic activities, tourism actively combats poverty by fostering income generation in various communities.

This thriving industry serves as a powerful force, shaping Cambodia’s present and future by fostering prosperity and well-being.

How has tourism affected Angkor Wat?

The surge in tourism and population growth has brought about significant consequences for Angkor Wat, notably leading to water shortages. To address this issue, authorities have resorted to groundwater extraction, which has subsequently led to a concerning drop in the local water table. The key impacts of tourism on Angkor Wat are:

  • Water Shortages: The high influx of tourists and residents has strained the available water resources, causing shortages in the region.

  • Groundwater Usage: Authorities have responded to the water crisis by tapping into groundwater reserves, which has further exacerbated the situation and posed potential environmental challenges.

This interplay of tourism and population dynamics has precipitated water-related concerns, necessitating careful management for the preservation of this iconic heritage site.

Which airport to go to Angkor Wat?

Siem Reap International Airport

Siem Reap International Airport (REP) emerges as Cambodia’s second most significant airport, following Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH). For travelers seeking the most convenient route to the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex, Siem Reap International Airport (REP) is the preferred choice. It stands as the closest airport to this renowned historical and tourist attraction. When planning your journey to Angkor Wat, this well-connected airport ensures easy access to the wonders of this ancient temple site.

Which airport is near Angkor Wat in Cambodia?

Siem Reap International Airport

Siem Reap International Airport (IATA: REP, ICAO: VDSR) is the primary international gateway for travelers heading to the Angkor Wat temple complex, a renowned and nearby tourist attraction. This airport not only connects you to the wonders of Angkor Wat but also embraces its Khmer and French heritage as Aéroport international de Siem Reap. If you’re seeking the nearest airport to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, look no further than Siem Reap International Airport (REP).

What is tourism benefits of tourism?

Tourism offers a multitude of benefits to destinations worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in fostering local prosperity and the preservation of cultural and natural treasures. The key advantages include:

  • Job Creation: Tourism generates employment opportunities across various sectors, bolstering the livelihoods of communities.

  • Economic Strength: It stimulates the local economy by attracting investments, fostering infrastructure development, and encouraging small business growth.

  • Cultural and Environmental Preservation: Tourism can promote the conservation of cultural assets, traditions, and natural environments, safeguarding a destination’s unique identity.

  • Poverty Alleviation: Through income generation and economic activities, it actively combats poverty and contributes to reducing inequality.

Tourism, therefore, holds a profound influence in enhancing the well-being of both destinations and their residents.

What is the main benefit of tourism?

Tourism offers a multitude of advantages to host destinations, with its primary benefit being:

  • Economic Boost: Tourism significantly enhances a country’s revenue, injecting vitality into its economy.

Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in:

  • Job Creation: Tourism generates numerous job opportunities, bolstering employment rates and economic stability.

  • Infrastructure Development: The sector contributes to the growth of infrastructure, benefiting both locals and visitors.

  • Cultural Exchange: It fosters a rich cultural exchange between foreign tourists and local residents, creating a profound sense of global interconnectedness.

Tourism’s multifaceted impact underscores its significance in enhancing the socio-economic and cultural landscape of host destinations.

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