The Kep-Koh Tonsay Tourism Port, a pier on mainland Kep town replacing an old one, was inaugurated on January 19, and is expected to greatly benefit the provincial economy, and go a long way to support the local tourism, agriculture and fisheries sectors.

With a surface area of nearly 5,000sqm, the pier is 68m wide and stretches out 306m into Chhak Kep bay towards the province’s most well-known island of Koh Tonsay. It is reportedly able to accommodate vessels of up to 300-passenger capacity.

Translating as Rabbit Island, due to its perceived resemblance to the fluffy little creatures, Koh Tonsay lies 4km offshore of the Kep mainland and is officially a part of Kep village.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the launch of the pier was in conformity with the government’s early-November move to allow a fuller resumption of socio-economic activities.

Infrastructure development would be key to optimise tourism growth, he said, adding that the new pier offers national and international travellers a splendid access point to the province and its islands.

“The construction of more ports, whether for tourism or shipping, aims to alleviate the people’s travel and goods transport woes, and boost the economy,” Chanthol added.

The minister asked boat owners and operators to properly check technical conditions and ensure vessels are equipped with adequate safety devices each time they are deployed.

Provincial governor Som Piseth told The Post a day before the ceremony on January 18 that with 12 islands and a reef, and as one of the Kingdom’s four coastal provinces, water travel is a must for Kep.

The Kep-Koh Tonsay Tourism Port is set to become a boon for Kep businesses, he said, noting that a fair share are tourism-oriented, given the province’s growing reputation as a great place for national and international holidaymakers to travel.

The governor affirmed that the pier could handle vessels of at most 300-passenger capacity, noting that its docks would be the province’s best option for speedboats. Provincial Department of Tourism director Som Chenda had earlier this month put forward that an upper bound closer to 400 may be possible.

Piseth said: “We hope that national and international sightseers will be able to visit the port, for the best interests of the community economy.”

He also commented that Kep’s waters are adjacent to those of Vietnam’s Kien Giang province – which includes Phu Quoc.

With this in mind, Piseth suggested that the government may consider developing bilateral tourism and transport initiatives with neighbouring countries that spotlight Kep.

The public works minister also noted that his ministry is in talks with experts to arrange financing for a car park with 250 spaces, in a province he noted suffers from plenty of parking-related issues.

Immigration, Customs and the other main relevant institutions have all voiced expectations that the Koh Tonsay Tourism Port would be a major revenue generating tourism and cargo pier that creates better employment prospects for locals, according to the provincial tourism chief.

Located in Kep village of the eponymous commune, district and province, the pier broke ground on December 12, 2019 and construction completed at the end of last month, taking just over two years, at an estimated cost of five billion riel ($1.23 million).