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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kep tourist port under threat, developer says

Kep tourist port under threat, developer says

Authorities have proposed unsuitable new site, Rotong says

THE Rotong Development Group, a Japanese company, is considering withdrawing investment in a proposed tourist port in Kep province, after provincial authorities nixed plans to build on the existing French-era docks, a company official said Sunday.

The old port, in the centre of Kep town, is built in deep water, making it the best place to build a new port, said the owner of the company, who asked to remain anonymous.

Authorities instead proposed a port location in the forest area of Poun Mountain, 5 kilometres from the centre of the town in Damnak Chang Er district, a site the company official said was shallow and choked with seaweed.

“We cannot develop a tourist port that is in the forest,” the Rotong official told the Post. “We may pull our investment out of this province and look for another coastal province.

“It’s one year that we’ve waited for it, and have spent a lot of money and time on this investment,” the official said. “But the province has not supported us.”

Rotong said in October it planned to put US$20 million into a Kep port and conference centre following approval in principle from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The plan would have linked Vietnam’s nearby popular tourist island Phu Quoc with Kep via ferries.

“We had hoped that the investment would make it easier for tourists to travel to our province,” Chhay Khoeun, the chief of the Kep Tourism Department, said Sunday. “Now, if it’s only a pipe dream, it will hinder our efforts to develop tourism in the province.”

Kep Governor Has Sareth said Sunday the province has a clear master plan for development, and the Council for the Development of Cambodia had approved the Phnom Poun port location.

“We need to expand the wider development of the province, not just a small area in the central part of the province,” he said, adding that the old port is already used by tourist passenger boats heading to nearby islands.

“That’s why we want the port to be developed in a new area,” he added.

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