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Ministry to study potential of coastal islands

A small boat lies anchored next to Koh Por island near Kep.
A small boat lies anchored next to Koh Por island near Kep. Moeun Nhean

Ministry to study potential of coastal islands

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction will send experts from its Cadastral Survey Department to study the investment potential of 75 islands that lie off Cambodia’s coast.

Chea Sophara, minister of land management, urban planning and construction, said during the ministry’s annual year-end review in December that the ministry intends to send a delegation to the islands by May 2018 to study the potential of each island.

“We must not be proud about visiting other countries’ islands,” he said. “What is important is that we know the islands of Cambodia, which are better.”

Sophara said the delegation would study the investment potential of the islands and their capacity for development. He added his ministry would take strict measures to prevent unlicensed construction.

“We forbid any construction without authorisation in order to avoid demolition after construction,” he said.

Only a handful of islands along the coast are being developed, including Koh Song Saa, Koh Russey, Koh Krobey, Koh Sdach, Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloen, Koh Thansour, and others. The government has already offered land concessions to local and international investors to develop the land.

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the islands have a high potential as tourist destinations, but would need to be developed in order to realise this potential. He warned, however, that investors had to consider environmental sustainability and avoid building anything hazardous on the islands such as petrol stations.

“We welcome development, but it is crucial to preserve the environment to ensure sustainability so that we can all benefit from the development,” he said.

Yon Min, governor of Preah Sihanouk province, said the province has 32 islands, some of which are being developed. Many of the islands, he said, have a strong potential for tourism because they boast beautiful beaches and coral reefs.

“If there is really going to be a study on the potential of the islands, it will be a great thing and the province fully supports this,” he said.

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