Cambodia Wants UNESCO Status for Colonial Cities Kampot, Kratie and Battambang

It has been evoked for a long time by Cambodian authorities but things are starting to take shape.

Cambodia is now bidding to gain UNESCO recognition and a world heritage status for three Cambodian cities, Battambang, Kratie and Kampot. Next June, the Cambodian government will make a formal request to the international cultural organisation to consider the three cities to be part of the prestigious World Heritage List.

Work on plans to win recognition for the cities—“rich in ancient buildings” that deserve to be conserved, according to the request- began more than two years ago. Both Cambodia Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism are working hand in hand to turn the three cities into new tourism assets. Following the establishment of the Protectorate over Cambodia by French in 1863, cities developed rapidly. Kratie and Kampot are true colonial jewels with hundreds of houses still preserved from the French time some hundred years ago.

Battambang – Cambodia second largest city with 14o,000 inhabitants- was colonized later, switching from Siam to the newly formed Kingdom of Cambodia. The city offers not only a well preserved European district but also old Siamese structure as well as modern tropical buildings from the late fifties to the mid sixties.

In a talk with the Cambodia Daily newspaper, Cambodia Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona said to have been working with other ministries on the designation for the three cities, as they boast a rich architectural and urban heritage to show to the world.

Once they receive the Unesco designation, the cities will become more attractive tourist destinations, Ms. Sackona said. “We want foreign tourists to stay longer in Cambodia: When they stay longer…this brings money into our economy.” A vision shared by the Ministry of Tourism. “We considered these three cities important heritage cities as secondary tourist destinations after Siem Reap City,” said Tourism Ministry spokesman Tith Chantha to the Cambodia Daily.

UNESCO would also help to provide funds to restore, renovate and enhance the urban landscape of the three cities, which already suffered in the past few years a number of destruction of their colonial heritage…A conference on heritage cities will be held in Siem Reap City on June 13 and 14 with a tour of Battambang being planned.