Dedicated to protecting Cambodia’s rich culture, the Heritage Friendly Tourism Campaign is helping visitors and locals alike understand the need to preserve the past.
What to experience ?
Heritage Watch started in 2003 in Cambodia as not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the world, through research, education, and advocacy, it is now active in several countries.
Its mandate is to:
- study threats to cultural heritage, including the illicit trade in antiquities, the looting of archaeological sites, and loss of historic architecture.
- educate the public on the artistic, informational, historical, cultural, and economic importance of heritage resources
- increase access to and awareness of national and international law affecting cultural property, while working with the proper authorities to implement, enforce, and improve it.
- Promote responsible tourism that furthers cultural and economic development and encourage the tourism industry to support the arts, culture, heritage and development.
- Foster communication between relevant governmental and intergovernmental agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and individuals
It undertakes a number of grass-roots projects. Heritage Watch launched the Heritage Friendly Tourism Campaign in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism. The campaign aims to create greater public awareness about Cambodia’s fascinating heritage, to promote responsible tourism and encourage businesses to promote the arts, culture and heritage in Cambodia.
Businesses participating in the Heritage Friendly Tourism Campaign have met certain criteria that encourage responsible tourism and participate to local economic sustainability. Certification ensures that they use Cambodian products where possible, patronise the arts, contribute financially to culture or heritage organisations, support social development projects in rural areas, promote Cambodia as a positive tourism destination, and do not participate in the antiquities trade.
Certified businesses have demonstrated that they are supporting these sectors in a meaningful way and these businesses are promoted by Heritage Watch as ‘heritage friendly’. When visiting Cambodia please support these community-minded businesses!
Their most recent initiative is the DHARMA Project – the Database of Historical and Archaeological Regulations for the Management of Antiquities.
How does it help ?
Supporting the Heritage Friendly Tourism Campaign helps preserving Cambodia’s fragile cultural heritage. Cambodia has experienced extensive looting in recent decades. Heritage Watch aims to ensure this tide is stemmed and that the Cambodian people become proactive in the preservation of their culture and heritage.
This can be successfully done by linking heritage and tourism. The belief is that visitors’ expenditures will benefit the local communities living near ancient sites. Local people will then have an incentive to protect the antiquities.
Heritage Watch is working at Koh Ker temple site. Training in small business management, tourism, language skills and culture is being provided and community patrols established to ensure the temples are not further damaged by looting. Increased tourism at the site will ensure the local community of Koh Ker benefits from a rise in visitor numbers.