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Island developers warned

MINISTER of Tourism Thong Kong told investors developing the islands off Sihanoukville to proceed with construction or forfeit their permits.

Speaking at a ministry workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday, he said: “We will request the government to cancel licences if we find that any of these important islands are left undeveloped.”

The minister, who did not call out any particular companies during his speech, said the islands held great potential as a tourism attraction and could assist in developing the Kingdom’s economy.

“If development on the islands can be carried out, I think it will attract many foreign tourists to come, and to stay longer,” Thong Khon said.

Statistics from the Council for the Development of Cambodia showed that approximately 20 island development schemes have been approved, but that plans are presently being implemented by only four developers. Some of the remaining 16 projects are being studied, and some have been left undeveloped.

CDC deputy secretary general Duy Thov said development could be a long process for investors.

“We support the desire to develop the coastal islands, but we do not expect real development activities soon, as there are many steps for developers before construction can begin,” he said.

Snake Island, Rong Island, Aun Island, and Bong Island were under development, and other islands granted approval were awaiting the start of construction.

Meanwhile, Daek Koul Island, located on the coast of Preah Sihanouk province, is finished and beginning to receive visitors, according to Duy Thov.

An official from Sea Snake Investment Group, which developed Daek Koul Island, said companies generally required about four years to plan and construct developments offshore.

“We cannot build on an island in a shorter time than this because, unlike places in the mainland, islands lack infrastructure connections,” Sea Snake Investment representative Saut Dy said.

Daek Koul Island was redeveloped in 2008 with the construction of a 12-room hotel, a restaurant, swimming pool, and fishing facilites. It receives between 10 and 15 tourists daily during high season.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom has continued to proffer development rights to its offshore islands.

Private developers received rights to four islands in Koh Kong province, including Torteung Island, Chhann Island, Puthsar Island, and Samith Island in July.

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