updated 10/26/2006 12:02:09 PM ET 2006-10-26T16:02:09

Cambodian authorities announced Wednesday that they will round up beggars from the streets of Siem Reap — Cambodia's main tourist destination — in order to burnish the country's image ahead of a regional exposition.

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Already the country's most popular site for visitors, an increase in tourists is expected during the Angkor-Gyeongju World Culture Expo, which will run from Nov. 21 to Jan. 9, 2007. The event is a joint Cambodia-Korean cultural festival.

"We need to protect our nation's honor. It's shameful for us to see beggars chasing tourists for money," said Siem Reap provincial governor Sou Phirin.

He said that beginning Sunday, police and social workers will comb the streets and markets of the tourist town for beggars, who will be gathered in a designated area before being taken away by trucks to their hometowns.

Sou Phirin was unable to give estimate of how many beggars are now in Siem Reap town.

Tourism is a major revenue earner for the cash-strapped government. There were 1.4 million foreign arrivals last year, with the largest numbers coming from South Korea, Japan and the United States. More than half of the tourists visited the Angkor temples in Siem Reap, 143 miles northwest of the capital Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is one of the world's poorest countries. Thirty-five percent of the country's 14 million people live on less than $0.50 a day.

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