THE government is seeking new investment to develop a tourist port in coastal Kep province to boost tourism with Vietnam's Phu Quoc island, said Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on Monday.
"We have got the green light [from the government] to develop Kep as an international tourist port, now we are looking for a qualified investor to upgrade the dilapidated port or to build a new port in Kep province to link tourism destinations between the province and Phu Quoc island in Vietnam," said Thong Khon.
He added that were such a project to be completed, it would attract more visitors to costal provinces and eco-tourism destinations in Kep and Kampot from Phu Quoc island.
Travel between Phu Quoc and Kep takes only 90 minutes, he said, adding that Phu Quoc has become a popular destination for tourists in the region and could draw around 3 million tourists per year by 2012.
"There are two local and foreign investors interested in the project, but we have not made any decision yet," he said.
Thong Khon could not estimate how much the port investment would cost.
"We think that the development will begin soon and only take six months to complete because it is not a large port - it is not a significant investment for a port development, but cruise ships will be expensive because we need the facility to meet international standards," he said.
Vietnamese tourism grows
He said Vietnam has surpassed South Korea as the No 1 source of tourists.
"During the first two months of this year, 45,000 Vietnamese tourists came to Cambodia - 39 percent more than in 2008," said the minister.
Kong Sopheareak, director of the Tourism Ministry's Information and Statistics Department, said Cambodia saw 419,480 tourists in the first two months of 2009 - down 4.3 percent from the same period last year.
"I think the number of tourists this year will increase by 2 percent because we expect a strong second quarter," said Kong Sopheareak.
Last year, the number of foreign tourists vising Cambodia was 2.15 million - a 5.5 percent increase.