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Kep woos investors for tourism port

KEP province is looking for a new investor to develop a tourism port linking the province with Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island, as the previous investor had not progressed with the project, provincial governor Has Sareth said yesterday.

The port was initially to be built by Japan’s Rotong Development Group, but the company had not begun construction of the planned $20 million project after its preferred site for the port was nixed by authorities earlier this year.

“We are seeking a real investor to build the tourist port,” Has Sareth said yesterday.

“We don’t know when we will start to build – ideally this year or next.”

Rotong company officials previously confirmed they had been granted approval for the project, and intended to build the port in Kep town to take advantage of a central location and the relatively deep harbour.

Authorities had instead proposed locating the port in the forested area of Poun Mountain, some 5 kilometres from town, a site that Rotong officials said was too shallow to support the proposed port.

“We cannot develop a tourist port in the forest,” said Rotong’s owner, who wished to remain anonymous.

“It’s been one year, and we’ve spent a lot of money and time on this investment – but the province has not supported us.”

Rotong officials were not available for comment yesterday.

Kep governor Has Sareth said that authorities would like to locate the new port outside of Kep town in an effort to extend development to other parts of the province.

He said Rotong’s preferred in-town site was already being used by passenger boats heading to nearby islands, making it unsuitable as the project site.

“I really want to have a new tourism port in my province,” he said.

Ministry of Public Works and Transportation secretary of state Sokhom Pheakvanmony had led a ministry delegation to inspect proposed sites for the future port last week, Has Sareth said.

“Kep province has three locations which are applicable to the construction of ports - the Poun Mountain area, Seh Sar area and Muk Damnak area – but no final decision has been made yet,” he said.

Sokhom Pheakavanmony could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Tep Houm, Kep Tourism Department Administration director, said the Kep tourism port was envisioned as a link with the popular Vietnamese tourist destination Phu Quoc island via a 90-minute journey by two ferries.

Kep has drawn an increased number of tourists so far this year, according to statistics obtained from the Kep Tourism Department yesterday.

The province received 409,638 visitors, including 50,180 foreign tourists, during the first half of 2010. It attracted only 227,019 total visitors, including 4,895 foreign tourists over the same period last year, according to its statistics.

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