The government has unveiled plans to develop a new town in the Bokor Mountain area, an inter-ministerial meeting last Friday said.

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara led the meeting to develop a master plan for the development project, located in Kampot province’s Teuk Chhou district, some 42km from Kampot town.

The ministry’s spokesperson could not be reached for further details of the plan on Wednesday. However, Kampot provincial governor Cheav Tay, who attended the meeting, told The Post on Wednesday that it is a land development project involving the creation of a new town.

“The project involves the development of land on Bokor Mountain. Should any new town need to be established, we have already allocated land for that,” he said.

A post on the ministry’s official Facebook page said the meeting was also attended by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, Minister of Environment Say Sam Al and Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min – who has since resigned in the wake of the recent fatal building collapse in Sihanoukville.

Tay said the project involves about 150,000ha on Bokor Mountain.

In May 2012, the government granted 18,987ha of land at the Bokor resort to Sokimex Investment Group Co Ltd to develop hotels and casinos.

Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association president Kim Heang said if there is a town development on Bokor Mountain, it would be positive for the real estate and tourism sector.

“It will cause land prices in the area to increase. The people nearby already benefit from the tourism sector, because Bokor Mountain is associated with tourism,” he said.

He believes that the influx of Chinese investors to Cambodia over the last few years may be one of the reasons that the government has felt encouraged to study the plan.

“If we say no, it is not right because our real estate sector is a pipeline for the large amount of money flowing in from China. In fact, if the Chinese had not come to Cambodia, the value of land would not have increased as it has done,” he said.

China has become the leading foreign investor in Cambodia in recent years, mostly in the construction and casino sectors, especially in Sihanoukville.

For five straight years, from 2013 to 2017, China was Cambodia’s largest foreign direct investor with investment capital of $5.3 billion – about $1 billion annually – according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia.