The Koh Tonsay Tourism Port, a pier on mainland Kep town replacing an old one, has been completed and is tentatively scheduled to be inaugurated on January 19 or within the week, to scale up tourism in Kep province to the next level, according to provincial governor Som Piseth.

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.

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.

Piseth claimed that the pier would be viewed as a manifestation of the province’s tourism capabilities and economic potential of sea links with the region and beyond.

“Every port is built for different purposes – there are fishing ports, cargo ports and tourism ports. The Koh Tonsay pier is a tourism port that can serve not only the Kingdom, but also its neighbours,” he told The Post on January 5.

Although noting that no official letter has been issued, Piseth said Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol – who is due to preside over the inauguration ceremony – had unofficially agreed to hold the event on January 19.

Kep Provincial Administration director Oeung Vuthy also confirmed the inauguration would likely be held on that date.

But Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya affirmed to The Post on January 5 that no official confirmation had been given for the inauguration date.

Nonetheless, Kep provincial Department of Tourism director Som Chenda told The Post on January 5 that the pier would be a crucial image booster for the province, and lure in more sightseers by sea to the islands.

He also put across that the pier would contribute to cooperation with neighbouring countries when the border gates to Vietnam and Thailand have opened at relatively high capacity.

“Our goal is to cooperate on waterway tourism from Kep to Koh Tral in Vietnam, and transport from Koh Tral to the province and to Thailand,” he said, using the Cambodian name for Phu Quoc.

Chenda said he expects that the pier decks closer to shore would only be able to handle 100 capacity passenger boats, and that others further away could accommodate larger vessels with 300-400 capacity.

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 Chenda.

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).

The Post understands that another “tourism port” is planned on Koh Tonsay island.