The seaside town of Kep and the nearby rustic islands have long been popular weekend getaway destinations for those residing and holidaying in Cambodia. In 2021 the coastal province has seen some major tourism developments, which the authorities hope will entice increased tourism.
The coastal region of Kep boasts 12 islands and many vibrant reefs and Kep beach is one of the nicest public beaches on the Cambodian coast. The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development of Cambodia approved a project to develop a high-level public beach resort in Kep province in mid-2021.
The project intends to create beaches, recreation areas, public spaces and green spaces in Prey Thom commune’s Thmey village in Kep city, with a length of 2,700 metres, and a public beach at least 30 metres wide, reported the Khmer Times.
Kep reportedly has a narrow coastline of about 450 metres with shallow beaches, and the authorities plan to remodel the beaches as part of the project.
Digtal Payments in Kep
Thong Rathasak, director-general of the ministry’s Tourism Development and International Cooperation said in 2021 that there was a “need for the development of fast and easy payment technology” especially in post-pandemic tourism in Cambodia.
You can read more about the adoption of fintech and digital payment systems in the Kingdom spurred on by the pandemic here.
Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) Pier / Tourist Port
Development of the Rabbit Island port started in mid-2020, but the MPWT (Waterway Infrastructure and Port Construction Department) announced several delays mainly due to the impact of COVID-19.
The latest update in August 2021, indicated the project will be completed by the end of 2021 – although in July it was already 75% completed. The port development has cost around USD $1.2 million and is designed to look like a crab (synonymous with the region) and will service the island destination of Koh Tonsay and the other dozen islands in the province.
The pier at the port is 306 metres long and is 68 metres wide, covering a total area of more than 4,000 square metres.
The Port is capable of accommodating ships with less than 300 passengers and other cargo of about 15 tonnes.
White Horse Port (Ses Sar)
The Kep Provincial Administration announced in early September 2021 that it is set to break ground on the USD $1.95 million Ses Sar quay, or “White Horse Port”.
The long-delayed multi-purpose port is being constructed to help support the local transportation and tourism sectors, and will be located in the northwestern reaches of the coastal province on 8 hectares in O’Krasar village, O’Krasar commune of Kep town – near Konsat commune of Kampot province’s Teuk Chhou district. This is the first larger scale port to be built in the province.
The seaport project “is part of Kep Tourism Master Plan and the maritime transportation connectivity project between the seaport in Koh Tonsay and a tourism seaport in Kampot province” which is also under construction.
Kep provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction director Voa Sokha said, “the project would be built under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement with a 15-year concession period, invested by the private sector” according to the Phnom Penh Post.
The White Horse Port is meant to be able to serve tourists, as well as light cargo ships (ferries and ships with a load of up to 1,000 tonnes will be able to dock at the port). Sokha added: “This port will facilitate the transportation of goods, (notably) agricultural products, between Kep and Kampot provinces, especially when transporting raw materials to supply factories in Kampot province.”
The inauguration date of the White Horse Port is scheduled for 2023.
In addition to the two confirmed ports, the Kep administration aims to build another new port on Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) with funding from the Asian Development Bank.
Koh Tonsay Investment Project
The groundbreaking of the Try Pheap Koh Tunsay Resorts Co Ltd’s 144 hectare development project on Koh Tonsay island took place in late September 2021.
Kep deputy provincial governor Vao Sokha confirmed that the government gave Try Pheap the right to invest in the development for 50 years. The total registered capital for the project is reported to be USD $130 million but no timeframe for construction has been provided.
The development project aims to build roads, a five-star hotel, bungalows, villages and beach sports facilities. The project is set to “include 568 five-star hotel rooms, 160 bungalows, motorboating facilities, maritime entertainment venues and tourism ports” reported the PP Post.
The concerns are that the peaceful island and current businesses will be negatively impacted as well as the environment. The company has agreed to preserve 60 per cent forest on Rabbit island.
Rabbit Island covers 184 hectares and is located about 4.5km southeast from Kep town. It traditionally has been popular with day trips and rustic weekend stays, with visitors enjoying the coral reefs and marine life.
Kep has an area of more than 100 sq km, and 10 minefields still remain in the province. The CMAC (Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority) and local authorities aim to clear the province of all minefields by end of 2021 confirmed the PP Post in September 2021, which could make Kep the first mine-free province in the Kingdom.
Read our Guide on Tourism in Cambodia as well as the latest on wether Cambodia will re-open to internationa tourism in 2021.