The government has announced that it is preparing to develop a special tourism area in the coastal province of Sihanoukville. In a move to diversify its tourism offerings, citing a need to boost tourism flow into the area.
Top Sopheak, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, said feasibility on the project has already been finalised to attract more tourist arrivals while encouraging more investment. One group has already pledged $16 billion.
Top said the project will comprise new hotels, hospitals, accommodation services, health centers and more. Construction is planned to commence this year and completion estimated at 2023.
The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development has given the go-ahead for the proposed project to start.
According to the committee, the project will occupy a total of 3,081 hectares of land stretching across two communes in Prey Nob district and will link the three beaches in the province; Ream, Ochheuteal, and Otres to Sihanoukville international airport.
Canopy Sands Development Co has already proposed to develop a project called “Ream City” inside the special area and has been granted government approval to start construction later this year.
The company already owns 834 hectares of land and has plans for a massive tourism development that will comprise of a hotel, restaurant, commercial centre, sports centre and other amenities and facilities, at an estimated cost of $16 billion.
Top stated this new development gives opportunities to both the public and private sectors to develop inside the area.
“This area will be more than just for attracting tourist arrivals. It will become a hub for investment and trade too.”
Last year, the government issued a sub-decree that created special tourist areas in provinces with high tourism potential. They are described as zones that have accommodation, food and beverage services, entertainment complexes, sports facilities, gardens, parks and healthcare centres among other tourism-related facilities.
A similar tourism site is also being planned for the Siem Reap province, home to the world-renowned Angkor Wat Temple.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the minister’s plans were on point.
“We encourage the establishment of new tourism products in main tourism destinations such as Siem Reap. We want tourists to stay longer and the best way to achieve this is through new tourism products and destinations.
“Tourists can visit the ancient temples one day and then enjoy other tourist sites such as eco-tourism establishments the next. At night, they can also visit the night markets and other entertainment venues,” Chhay added.
Vongsey Vissoth, permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said earlier this month that the government is preparing a master plan for the development of Sihanoukville to be a Special Economic Zone, similar to Shenzhen in southeastern China. He said: “If we want to transform Sihanoukville to be like Shenzhen, it cannot just be about casinos. It has to be an industrial city with services, technology and tourism.”