The government has signed contracts to lease 19 out of 32 islands and beaches in Preah Sihanouk province to private companies for purposes of investment and development into resorts.
This is in order to attract more tourism and investment, and boost national economic growth, according to a senior provincial official.
Provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche told The Post on January 27 that the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration, together with a Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) inter-ministerial committee, recently inspected the progress of development projects by the companies with whom they signed contracts.
He said that after the field inspection, the developers have made good progress, but noted irregularities amongst a small number of companies. Dimanche added that the CDC and provincial authorities will advise all companies to abide by their contracts and development masterplans.
The government leased the islands and beaches specifically to companies with the ability, resources and experience to contribute to boosting the growth of the national economy, as well as to attract investors and tourists, he said. Development of the islands and beaches, he added, will enable tourists and investors to stay long-term.
Dimanche said that Preah Sihanouk province possesses great potential, given an abundance of natural resources and physical infrastructure. The province also benefits from the openness by local authorities to cooperate with national and international investors, he added.
“Preah Sihanouk continues to open its doors to welcome and cooperate with local and foreign investors for economic development,” Dimanche said.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post that it is the norm in Cambodia – as with any country in the world – to always lease or hand over the development of islands and beaches to private companies as governments generally do not have the capacity to engage in such development on their own.
He added that engaging private companies to invest in the islands and beaches, as well as facilitating investment in certain areas, is one of the best options to lure investment from abroad and ensure the long-term prosperity of the country.
Sinan stressed, however, that the government must ensure that these developments strictly comply with the country’s investment laws. At present, many of the islands are managed by businesspeople, but are not developed and simply resold or leased to other investors, he said.
“These are issues for our country, but if the government implements laws such as the CDC-controlled development law, I think it would be great. We cannot leave the island undeveloped, but all development must respect the basic environmental principles in order to sustain the natural resources we have,” Sinan said.