Chinese take a slice of Cambodia

SIHANOUKVILLE, 24 March 2016: Cambodia and 13 Chinese companies have signed agreement, late last week, to develop and supply services to its Golden Silver Gulf resort project in Sihanoukville.

The signing ceremony was held in Phnom Penh, last week, between Yeejia Tourism Development and its development partners, witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly, the Council for Rural and Agricultural Development chairman, Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Environment Minister Say Samal, and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo, as well as Chinese investors and representatives from relevant institutions.

Phnom Penh Post reported the resort is already under construction on 3,300 hectares inside Ream National Park, and is set to include villas, five-star hotels, an exhibition centre, duty-free shopping and health facilities.

inside no 3No explanation was given on how a major tourism project could be approved on national park land.

The development will cover 28 km of pristine coastline on the Ream Peninsula and western half of Koh Thmei island.

The project is about 18 km from Sihanoukville and 7.3 km from Sihanoukville International Airport.

The construction of a highway connecting the resort to Sihanoukville’s airport as well as the main highway to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, will begin later this year.

The developer did not indicate the cost of the project, or timeline for completion. Previous media reports have indicated the development would cost around USD5 billion and take 20 years to complete, the report said.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon was quoted saying the opening of the Golden Silver Gulf resort would draw more Chinese tourists to Cambodia’s coast.

“This investment is part of a response to [China’s] ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy and will attract more Chinese tourists.”

Whether revenue earned at the resort remains in the country and filters through to communities in an impoverished region remains to be seen.

Last year, the country attracted 4.77 million international visits compared to 4.50 million in 2014. Chinese arrivals ranked second recording 694,712 visits in 2015 increasing 24.0% from 560,335 visits in 2014.

Cambodia is expected to welcome as many as 2 million Chinese tourists to the kingdom by 2020.

Sihanoukville is the most popular beach town in Cambodia. It is a province in the southwest of Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. It is the oldest tourist destination on the coast and home to a thriving port and an airport.

Ministry of Tourism hopes to encourage international tourists to visit coastal areas and ecotourism destinations to take the pressure off Siem Reap, which dominates as the top tourist destination even surpassing Phnom Penh the capital.