Coastal Preah Sihanouk province, southwest of Phnom Penh, received the most tourism investment in the country last year, the Ministry of Tourism said.
As of last year, tourism projects accounted for half of the total approved for investment by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), said Tith Chantha, secretary of state of the Ministry of Tourism.
Most of the tourism investment projects were based in Preah Sihanouk province, follow by in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Tith told reporters at a news conference at the Council of Ministers.
The approved tourism investments were valued at about $3 billion in 2019, but he could specify the number of projects invested in Preah Sihanouk province.
“As of 2019, figures from the CDC, tourism investments accounted for more than 50 percent of total approved investments nationwide, which totalled about $6 billion, and the province that received the most tourism investment was Preah Sihanouk and then Phnom Penh,” Tith said.
Tourism investments focused on hotels, malls, resorts, sport courts, restaurants and other tourism-related facilities.
“The new tourism investments contribute to the growing tourism sector, particularly in destinations like Preah Sihanouk province,” Tith said.
Coastal areas, particularly Preah Sihanouk province, have attracted significant arrivals of foreign tourists after Siem Reap province, a cultural tourism destination because of Angkor Wat in particular.
Last year, mass construction of infrastructure in Preah Sihanouk began with a new road. which the government is using to promote the province in terms of a special economic zone as a gateway for exports and as a tourism destination.
Figures from the ministry show that the arrival of foreign tourists to the Kingdom rose by 6.6 percent last year, to 6.6 million. Chinese tourists made up the bulk with 2.5 million visiting.
Meanwhile, renovation work at Preah Sihanouk International Airport, including the expansion of its runway, is expected to be completed this year.
Last month it was announced Preah Sihanouk province will soon become a multi-purpose special economic zone and potentially the industrial hub of Cambodia, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Speaking at the Public Forum on Macroeconomic Management and Budget Law 2020, Vongsey Vissoth, permanent secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, acknowledged there are some issues regarding real estate, construction and property in Sihanoukville, but the government is working to resolve them.
“We know that Sihanoukville has issues, but we have the solutions. The construction sector in Sihanoukville is a bubble. It rose too quickly. Therefore, when something happens like banning online gaming it drops quickly,” Vongsey said.
Located along the coast, Preah Sihanouk province boasts an international airport, a railway line connected to Phnom Penh and the Kingdom’s only deep-sea port.
Its construction sector has attracted billions of dollars in investment over the last few years – most of which comes from China. The casino industry had been booming until last year, with large swathes of Chinese tourists and investors coming in to gamble.
Vongsey said there are measures to build infrastructure in the province to attract more investors and tourists. The government is also preparing a master plan for the development of Sihanoukville to be a special economic zone, similar to Shenzhen in Southeastern China.
Shenzhen is regarded as the Silicon Valley of China.