Cambodia’s ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat has been ranked as the world’s top tourism landmark in TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards.
Other sites included in the listings were the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi, the Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba in Spain, St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, and the Taj Mahal in India.
Long Kosal, a spokesman for the Apsara Authority, the government agency that runs Angkor Wat, said Cambodia should be proud of the award.
“This is the Khmer nation’s pride, because Angkor Wat is not only part of the prosperous heritage of Cambodia, but it has also become the heart and soul of the nation,” he said.
He added that the Apsara Authority was working hard to preserve the temples.
Ang Kim Eang, founder of the Great Angkor Tour company, said the award would bolster tourism as more people became aware of the temples.
He added that it was important to educate tourists about how to behave while visiting the sacred site as visitor numbers continued to rise.
“They don't have any knowledge. They did not pay respect to the Buddha statues while they are visiting. We are worried especially when it is crowded,” he said.
He said the number of Chinese tourists are increasing rapidly and hoped that better ties with China and Chinese companies would help to continue this trend.
Last year, some 2.2 million tourists visited the temple complex, Kosal said, bringing in more than $62 million to government coffers. So far this year, about 950,000 tourists have visited Angkor Wat.
Until November 2015, the complex was leased to a company owned by Sok Kong, a petroleum magnate close to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.