WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Si Sa Ket locals, authorities wait eagerly for reopening of Preah Vihear, border checkpoint

Si Sa Ket locals, authorities wait eagerly for reopening of Preah Vihear, border checkpoint

Officials and locals in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district say they are looking forward to the reopening of access to the Preah Vihear Temple complex and adjoining border checkpoint soon.

After Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet visited Thailand early last month, the House committee on foreign affairs called on the government to negotiate the reopening of a temporary border checkpoint and access to the ancient temple.

In a move seen as the government’s commitment to holding such talks, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul led a delegation of ministers under his supervision to Si Sa Ket on Friday.

Local authorities said they have been waiting for the reopening of the ancient Khmer temple, so people on either side of the border can visit one another and revive border trade and tourism.

Cambodia closed the temporary checkpoint on June 22, 2008, after clashes broke out over disputed territory around the temple.

Meanwhile, Si Sa Ket governor Anupong Suksomnit said the provincial government has been closely monitoring the possibility of the Thai side negotiating the reopening of the checkpoint and access to the Khmer temple.

He said the province has put in place personnel and management systems to deal with the border reopening if the two governments reach a deal on the subject.

Si Sa Ket locals, authorities wait eagerly for reopening of Preah Vihear, border checkpoint

Jit Artsanjorn, chief of the Khao Phra Viharn National Park, said Si Sa Ket has set up a working panel to oversee preparations for the checkpoint’s reopening. The panel has representatives from the Provincial Administration Department, Immigration Bureau, Customs Department, and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

She said the panel had resolved that all local agencies were prepared to swing into action as soon as the checkpoint’s reopening is given the green light.

Jit added that the park has also prepared all conveniences to cope with an expected surge of tourists once the checkpoint is reopened.

She said some 40 shops in the park have also been told to get ready to cope with more tourists.

Jit believes that once the checkpoint is reopened, the number of tourists visiting the park will grow to some 700,000 arrivals per year from about 220,000 now. She added that the park is currently earning approximately 10 million per year based on the number of arrivals.

Sawas Loonphong, chief of the natural resources administration division of the park, said he has been assigned to oversee tourist spots in the park and is confident that tourism will start booming as soon as the border checkpoint has reopened.

Sawas added that all the tourism spots inside the park are now ready to welcome tourists.

Si Sa Ket locals, authorities wait eagerly for reopening of Preah Vihear, border checkpoint

The spots include the Bee Hive Triangle viewpoint on the Mor I Daeng Cliff that straddles Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

There are also several historical sites for tourists to visit inside the park, including Prasat Don Tuan or the Don Tuan castle, Sawas said.

Reporters accompanying Anutin and his delegation reported that several resorts near the park were preparing for an influx of tourists.

Resorts are being opened along the road leading to the park, while Ban Phumi Sarol villagers are setting up souvenir shops.

Young Si Sa Ket-natives, Wanpiti Sihapong and Wichayuti Thammaboon, said they quit their jobs in Bangkok to open a camping site called Piti Farm on their land by the road leading to the park.

They said their site has been attracting tourists since late last year, and they expect a greater influx once the border checkpoint is reopened.