Kampot International Tourism Port – slated to be completed by end-2021 – will become an international maritime gateway, a vital component in the national transportation system, and an important magnet for national and international tourists, according to Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

The minister made the remark on September 29 during an inspection of the quay, in the company of provincial governor Cheav Tay, as reported by the Ministry of Tourism later that day.

Khon said the quay will “link tourist transportation to the southern islands and connect Kampot province the world” and undergird tourism development in the Bokor Mountain region and other nearby areas, especially along the Kingdom’s coastline.

Breaking ground on August 8, 2018, the quay is built to international standards and will handle one million passengers – presumably annually, the ministry said, noting that construction was about 84 per cent complete and on track to be finished by December 31.

Located on 4ha in Teuk Chhou district about 6km southeast of Kampot town, the project is financed by an $8 million loan from the Asian Development Bank, and will have a water depth of 4.5m.

Kampot provincial Department of Tourism director Soy Sinol told The Post on September 30 that the quay would inject a new dose of vitality into the Kampot market and lure in travellers from neighbouring countries to the province’s wide-ranging selection of beaches, mountains, natural attractions and other tourist destinations.

The project will improve access to more options for holidaymakers, especially after the world is able to control Covid-19, he said, adding that international tourists will be able enter Cambodia through the quay and travel to various recreational tourist spots across the country.

“We are eagerly awaiting to receive tourists through the port,” he said, adding that the project is the first of its kind for the province, predicting that the quay would catch the eye of more investors.

World Express Co Ltd managing director Ho Vandy echoed Sinol’s enthusiasm, hoping for a meaningful uptick in holidaymakers to the Kingdom from neighbouring countries.

He said the creation of docks and entertainment venues would make Kampot more attractive to travellers and investment in all sectors.

“This is a form of tourism diversification achieved through waterway transport, which allows visitors to try new experiences, as opposed to air and land travel,” he said.

In addition to Kampot International Tourism Port, the minister also attended inauguration ceremonies for smaller infrastructure developments in the Phnom Kampong Trach area in Kampot – known for its caves, as well as the Peam Krasop Tourism Community in Koh Kong province and the Wat Phnom Sar Sear Community in Kep province.

From January-July, Cambodia received 112,544 international visitors, marking a steep decline of 90.6 per cent year-on-year, the tourism ministry reported, noting that only two entered the country by waterways.