Tourism surge a blight on popular sites in South-east Asia

Eco-damage means days of unfettered access to prime spots in region are over: Operators

Huge crowds are drawn to the majestic sight of the sun rising over the central stupa of the famous Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in this photo taken on March 22 this year. A rubbish collector clearing trash on the polluted Kuta beach near
Huge crowds are drawn to the majestic sight of the sun rising over the central stupa of the famous Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in this photo taken on March 22 this year. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Huge crowds are drawn to the majestic sight of the sun rising over the central stupa of the famous Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in this photo taken on March 22 this year. A rubbish collector clearing trash on the polluted Kuta beach near
A rubbish collector clearing trash on the polluted Kuta beach near Denpasar, on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali, in this photo taken on Dec 19 last year. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

When Mr Willem Niemeijer, chief executive and founder of Bangkok-based tour operator YAANA Ventures, first went to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, he recalls having the Unesco-listed site to himself.

Cambodia in 1992 was under administration by the United Nations as it prepared for national elections after decades of civil war and travellers were thin on the ground.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2018, with the headline 'Tourism surge a blight on popular sites'. Subscribe