Tourists will soon be able to cruise along the Pursat river in rowing boats and pedalos, under plans to develop the waterway as a tourist attraction, according to a senior provincial official.
Pursat deputy governor Kaet Chhe yesterday told Khmer Times the initiative is being studied by the officials from the provincial authority, Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and relevant stakeholders. He said officials are seeking funding for the project, adding that it will benefit local hotels, restaurants, farmers and craftsmen.
“Our studies have shown the water level in the river is high enough during rainy season to allow tourists to enjoy boating there,” said Chhe, adding that such trips would not be possible in dry season at the moment, but could be if local water management systems were developed.
Chhe said the province wants to build a dam to hold water during rainy season and release into the river in dry season, to benefit farmers and tourists that want to use the river. However, he could not confirm when the project will be ready to begin.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA Cambodia Chapter), told Khmer Times the initiative is a good idea, adding there are many potential tourism spots along Pursat river. But he said several issues must be overcome to make way for development, such as the fact that sewage and waste currently flows into the river every day, while the foundations of the riverbank need improving.
Sinan suggested the province educate local people about eco-tourism as a way of addressing these problems. “From the private sector perspective, we strongly support this initiative. We don’t want tourists to think that Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the only places to visit, so we need more new attractions in other provinces in the country,” he said.
Pursat tourism director Som Khim said the project will boost the image of the province, attract local and foreign tourists and improve the living standards of people living by the river. He said the province already welcomes more than 55,000 local and foreign tourists each year to attractions including the Cardamom Mountains, the floating town of Kampong Luang and Koh Sampov Meas Island Park.
Pursat lies 174 kilometres from Phnom Penh in the southwest of the country. The province is covered mainly by mountainous terrain and boasts several historic sites relating to the war between the Siamese and Khmers, which took place just before the French Colonial era in Cambodia.
A popular site is the tomb of Oknha Klang Meung, the Cambodian hero who led the war against Siamese and defeated them in 1482. The province borders Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Thailand.