Magazine article Geographical

The Problem with Popularity

Magazine article Geographical

The Problem with Popularity

Article excerpt

Back in 2002, my partner and I visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Now, I realise that this is going to sound sacrilegious, but we were a tad underwhelmed by it. Part of the problem was that ten years earlier, we had visited--and been blown away by--the incredible Mayan temple complex of Tikal in northwestern Guatemala.There, visitor numbers were so low that it was often possible to convince yourself that you had the temples to yourself. Arriving at Angkor Wat on our first afternoon there, we were staggered by the number of people with whom we would be sharing this unquestionably spectacular monument.

So, it was with a sense of sadness, but not surprise, that I read Leisa Tyler's article about the threat to Angkor Wat and the rest of the ancient complex (page 38) posed by unrestricted tourism. In 2002, we were among 600,000 people who visited the temples; last year, that number reached 1.7 million. And the figures are still rising--faster than at any other World Heritage site. …

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