PHNOM Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) plans to build a new US$80,000 passenger terminal, its deputy director general, Cheap Thol, told the Post Thursday.
He said that the port is currently calling on construction companies to bid for a contract to build the new terminal.
The project will cater to tourists, who are currently gathering in nearby Titanic Restaurant before boarding boats to Siem Reap province every day, Cheap Thol said.
It is hoped a new 15-by-35 square-metre hub will clean up the look of the port serving the roughly 70 to 80 passengers a day that use the existing terminal. Foreigners will be charged $1 to use the facility, he said.
Ang Kim Eang, president of Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the project represented a positive move as part of the drive to improve and develop the Kingdom’s tourism infrastructure.
“It is a good idea that would respond to the needs of tourists and eliminate unorganised crowds [around the quayside]. If the terminal provides a good and secure service, tourists will use it and come more often.
“[But] I am concerned that they may charge too high a price from tourists, which would have a negative impact on perceptions. But if the price stays at $1, then I support the plan,” he added.
Cambodia should also build additional passenger terminals outside the capital in provinces like Kampong Cham, Kratie, Preah Sihanouk, Siem Reap, Kampot and in Kep Municipality, said Ang Kim Eang.
According to a PPAP report released to the Post Thursday, the number of tourists travelling through decreased an annualised 19 percent in 2009. Only 38,135 tourists used the port in 2009, while 46,910 did so in 2008, a drop of 19 percent year on year.
This decline was steeper than the overall decline in air arrivals to Cambodia – which fell just under 12 percent in the first 11 months – suggesting that tourists were increasingly choosing not to travel by boat, instead opting for more cost-effective modes of transport.
However, the total income which tourists paid to the port rose by 15.7 percent this year to $57,129 from $49,383 in 2008. “This resulted from the increase in the volume of boats landing at the port from new transportation companies,” said Eang Veng Sun, deputy director general of PPAP in charge of commerce.