Construction of the first seaport for tourist vessels in Kampot is due to start by the end of the year. The groundbreaking ceremony for the port project was previously scheduled for September, but was delayed.
The new facility aims to boost tourism in the province by connecting seaborne tourists from Vietnam, Thailand and Preah Sihanouk province. Provincial tourism department director Soy Sinol said government officials are now preparing the legal framework for construction and taking care of other aspects of the project to ensure the groundbreaking occurs as planned. “Construction will start by the end of the year because the legal framework and construction studies are being developed smoothly,” he said.
Sinol failed to provide a concrete answer as to why construction of the project had been delayed, but said that feasibility studies and other preparations needed time to be completed. The $18-million seaport will be built with a loan from the Asia Development Bank (ADB). The new facility is expected to come into service by 2019.
The ADB approved the loan in 2014 and said the seaport and other infrastructure in southern Cambodia would open up new opportunities for tourism beyond popular destinations such as the Angkor temples. An ADB report on tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion says the seaport is expected to service 360,000 international and domestic tourists when it opens, and some 442,000 by 2020.
Located in Tek Chhou district, the seaport is 300 metres long and can accommodate ships with a passenger capacity of 200 to 300. “It is important for the province to have a tourist seaport because it will help attract tourists, particularly foreign tourists from Thailand and Vietnam travelling in cruise ships,” added Sinol. “Thanks to the new port, Kampot province will be connected to neighbouring countries and we will share tourists.”
There have been numerous talks with authorities from Vietnam and Thailand on increasing dialogue between public officials from each area and the private sector to boost tourism numbers in the region, said Sinol.
Ho Vandy, the secretary general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, told Khmer Times he expected the new facility to aid the development of tourism in the province. He also highlighted the enormous potential of water transport in bringing tourists into Kampot, particularly from neighbouring countries.
Kampot received one million tourist during the first nine months of the year, an increase of about 12 percent compared with the same period last year, according to figures from the Kampot Provincial Tourism Department.
This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.