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$1bn Siem Reap airport talks

$1bn Siem Reap airport talks

A SOUTH Korean firm plans to discuss construction of a new US$1 billion international airport in Siem Reap province today.

The company, which was involved in the construction of South Korea’s largest airport, Incheon International, will meet with State Secretariat of Civil Aviation officials today to study the domestic aviation industry, SSCA deputy cabinet director Long Chheng said.

“They want to conduct a feasiblity study of Cambodia’s civil-aviation sector,” he said, but he added that it was too early to discuss the exact size of the planned facility.

Long Chheng also declined to release the name of the firm until the conclusion of today’s meeting, but said Cambodia welcomed foreign direct investment in the sector.

“Under the government’s open-skies policy, we’re very welcoming to any investment in the country’s aviation sector,” he said.

Siem Reap province Deputy Governor Bun Tharith said yesterday that the proposed $1 billion airport would be able to accept larger aircraft than was possible at Siem Reap’s existing international airport.

He said the new airport would be located on 500 hectares of land in Chie Kreng and Sonikum district, some 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, which would keep disruptions at the Angkor Wat complex to a minimum.

“The new airport would not impact or damage the temple by noise pollution because it is located far away from the town and temple,” he said yesterday.

He said that further discussions were required before the project would be sent to the Council for the Development of Cambodia for
approval.

Asia Travel and Tours Cambodia’s managing director Chhim Vivath applauded the potential airport, and predicted that up to five times as many tourists could visit the temples of Angkor Wat in the future.

“If they invest here, there could be more direct links from the European Union and United States to Siem Reap.

Tourists could reduce expenses by not having to transit through other countries,” he said.

“The number of tourists to Angkor would increase by a factor of four to five times because the big aircraft could land here,” he speculated.

Foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 12.39 percent to 1,221,156 in the first half of 2010, from 1,086,518 for the same period last year.

Arrivals to Siem Reap rose 27.42 percent during the period to 640,944, from 503,028 in 2009, according to data released by the Ministry of Tourism.

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