Diane Pittman review 23 Jan 2008
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
First sight on Angkor Wat before sunrise, silhouetted against a dark sky.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
We had a great local guide, but I was concerned about the impact of our big, air-conditioned bus & noisy diesel longtail boat during the trip up Tonle Sap. I'd like to know more about how money from tourism actually infiltrates the local economy. I'm concerned that tourism is creating a dependent, vassal class of native servants & merchants.
Read the operator's response here:
We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed your holiday and thank you very much for your comments! We are happy to reply to a couple of queries you raised from question three:
Air-conditioned vehicle: Unfortunately vehicle standards in Cambodia are not as high as they are in neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand or even Laos. In particular, there is a paucity of very modern vehicles in Cambodia, so the vehicles we use can be less fuel efficient than modern vehicles. We do the following things to minimise effects on the environment:
i) Insist that our vehicle suppliers sign supplier agreements (annually), which demand for proper maintenance and therefore maximise engine efficiency.
ii) Pressure our vehicle suppliers to provide more modern vehicles.
iii) Use larger tour vehicles only when they are essential. ie we make a balanced judgement against the need to transport tourists for (sometimes) six hours in a day, against the use of cyclos, tuk tuks and walking as alternative modes of transport.
Use of boat: The boat excursion to Choeung Kneas does attract a wide range of comment from our travellers. We have in the past considered removing this excursion from our tours, however in consultation with our guide team in Siem Reap and our Siem Reap office staff, decided to keep the excursion for the following reasons:
i) Tourist vehicles entering the north-western end of the lake pay a significant amount of money as an 'entrance fee' (we pay for this). This money is (at least to some extent) is channelled to the Choeng Kneas community.
ii) Through supplier payments and tips (which we handle), several boat crews on the lake rely heavily on us for an income.
iii) More generally, we expect that our travellers behave with sensitivity to the fact that they are visiting a village, while on the boat
iv) Most importantly, feedback given to our management staff in Cambodia from the lake community indicates that the community does want tourists to visit.
How does tourism benefit the economy?
Generally we would make the point that tourism is the second largest industry in Cambodia (after garment manufacturing) and thus allows for the creation of jobs, income, as well as exposure to international cultures and work skills. Most importantly, tourism crates business revenue, and thus tax income, which in turn allows for the capacity for road, school, hospital, public service and other