Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

A view of Koh Rong island. Photo supplied
A view of Koh Rong island. Photo supplied

Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

Businesses expect the establishment of Cambodia’s first marine national park covering seven coastal islands to boost tourism in the area, while government officials said yesterday it would not affect private development scheduled for the islands.

A sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday designated 52,448 hectares of national park off Cambodia’s southern coast, but only 5,311 hectares of that area was land. The two most popular and developed islands on the list, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, have land masses of about 7,800 hectares and 2,450 hectares, respectively, and thus are not entirely covered by the designation.

Local conglomerate Royal Group, owned by Kith Meng, was granted a concession to develop Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem in 2008, and planned to spend $2 billion to turn large swaths of the island into a “luxury resort destination”, according to Bloomberg’s news service.

Those plans are unlikely to be affected by the recent announcement, according to Preah Sihanouk province’s Deputy Governor Kong Vitanak.

“The national park will not impact to small business holders, investors, developers or villagers,” he said yesterday.

Vitanak said that the exact areas that would belong to the national park had not yet been finalised, as officials from the Ministry of Environment were still measuring the area. A spokesman for the ministry could not be reached yesterday.

“This is the first national park in the coastal province, and it is a key to attract both international and national tourists” Vitanak said.

Taing Socheat Kroesna, director of the province’s Department of Tourism, welcomed the news of the national park and said it would promote tourism as well as protect the country’s coast.

“It opens the opportunity for investors who are looking for developing, in terms of protecting the natural resources,” he said.

Ty Sochea, an operations manager at Koh Rong’s Long Set Resort, said that if the national park was truly enforced, it would provide benefits to the island’s tourism industry.

“If we have a national park on the island, I am sure our business would be better than it is now,” he said yesterday. “It will give more options to tourists who will not only enjoy the beach and coral.”

Royal Group’s massive development plans on the two islands, which at one point included an airport, hotels, polo and golf fields and a marina, have been slow to get off the ground. The company’s first completed development, the luxury resort Royal Sands Koh Rong, opened in December, more than eight years after the firm received the development concession.

The company’s plans have occasionally put it at loggerheads with local authorities and villagers. In 2015, island residents held a sit-in to protest the construction of a road by the company, and the next year a Preah Sihanouk coastal working group halted Royal Group’s construction of a port on the island, claiming that proper permission had not been granted.

Later in 2016, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on his Facebook page that, “Island development projects that are not active shall be examined and taken back.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Jica seeks to turn PP, towns into smart cities

    Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) representatives have sought support from Siem Reap’s Apsara National Authority (ANA) to transform the ancient capital into a smart city. The call was made in February last year after the government approved three cities to join the Asean Smart