SIHANOUKVILLE, 7 July 2016: Cambodia will improve transport links in the country as it extends the reach of its tourism industry to include coastal resorts in Preah Sihanoukville province.
Commenting on extending tourism to the coastal region, south of the capital Phnom Penh, Ministry of Tourism secretary of state, Tith Chantha, said highways, ferry services and air links would be improved to position Sihanoukville as the main coastal gateway.
He was commenting diversifying tourism beyond the traditional cultural destinations on the sidelines of the Mekong Tourism Forum, Wednesday.
“Yes, the five-hour drive from the capital to Sihanoukville is daunting,” he admitted, “but the government plans to build a new highway from Phnom Penh and improvements will be made to highways 4 and 3.”
Currently it takes five to six hours to cover the 251 km distance from the capital to the coastal port of Sihanoukville on highway 4 that urgently needs to be widened and repaired.
The two highways, 3 and 4, are the main routes for convoys of container trucks that ferry goods from Sihanoukville’s port to the capital.
He said improvements to highways linking the country to neighbours Vietnam, Laos and Thailand were also in the planning stage.
The secretary of state noted that the Sihanoukville’s airport needed a runway extension from the current 2,500 metres to accommodate larger commercial jets. The airport’s terminal, covering an area of 2,240 sqm was renovated and improvements made to the runway prior to it reopening for domestic flights from Siem Reap two years ago. It lies 17 km from the town centre on highway 4.
Cambodia Angkor Air offers daily direct flights from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh (35 min flight) and five weekly flights from Ho Chi Minh City. There are also plans to add a service from Phu Quoc island in Vietnam.
“We are working on international flights possibly from Singapore and Bangkok,” he told the press briefing, “and there are on-going talks with Russian airlines for charter flights. In the long-run we will need to extend the runway.”
There are 14 domestic flights a week landing at Sihanoukville airport, as well as seasonal charters by SilkAir in Singapore, Lucky Air based in Kunming, Yunnan province China and Sky Angkor Airlines from Seoul South Korea.
In 2015 civil aviation authorities said the airport served 94,630 passengers and 1,853 aircraft movements.
The secretary of state confirmed the Asian Development Bank would fund the construction of ferry port at Kampot that will be managed by inland waterway authorities when it opens in 2018.
Costing USD8 million the ferry port will cover an area of 4 hectares and will have custom and immigration authorities for a ferry service that will link Kampot with the tourist island Phu Quoc in Vietnam.
Construction should begin early 2017.