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Number of tourists to Preah Vihear temple bounces back as border tension eases

(Xinhua)

10:28, September 14, 2011

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Visitors to Preah Vihear temple, a World Heritage Site in Cambodia, have seen a sharp rise in the last two months due to the military tension between Cambodia and Thailand over the border dispute has eased since early July, a government official said Tuesday.

The Preah Vihear provincial tourism department recorded a total of 7,000 tourists to the temple in July and August this year, 218 percent rise from merely 2,200 during the same period last year.

Kong Vibol, head of the provincial tourism department, attributed the rise to the normalcy of border situation.

The decision of the International Court of Justice on July 18 ordered Cambodian and Thai troops to pull back from the provisional demilitarized zone of about 17 kilometers around the temple.

"Although both sides' troops have not withdrawn from the area, since then, military tension has eased and the situation has returned to normal," he said.

Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple, is located on the top of a 525-meter cliff in the Dangrek Mountains, about 500 kilometers northwest of the Cambodian capital.

Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflicts over territorial dispute near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers of scrub next to the temple.

But tensions have eased since the Pheu Thai Party, led by ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's youngest sister Yingluck Shinawatra, won a landslide victory in the general elections on July 3.

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