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Koh Kong airport’s first test flight early 2022

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The $350 million Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province is set to commerce operations in mid-2021. SSCA

Koh Kong airport’s first test flight early 2022

The first trial flight is set to land in Koh Kong province’s Dara Sakor International Airport in late January or early in February, according to the company in charge of construction.

The announcement comes as the government fine-tunes its strategy to reopen the Kingdom to international tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19, and ensure the safety of travellers and locals.

At a meeting with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on October 30, Dara Sakor International Airport Construction Co representatives said airport construction had reached 95 per cent to date.

“The first test flight is scheduled for late January or early February 2022,” they said, as quoted local channel Bayon Television (BTV).

Khon asked the company to speed up work, noting that the government is priming the Dara Sakor area – in Kiri Sakor district’s Koh Sdech commune of Koh Kong – as part of its initial tourism reopening scheme for vaccinated travellers.

The airport covers an area of 4.5ha in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor – east of Kiri Sakor – and is developed by Chinese company Tianjin Union Development Group (UDG) with capital investment of $350 million. It is reportedly able to accommodate large aircraft such as Boeing 777s and Airbus 340s.

On October 28, the government rolled out two major instruments in relation to reopening plans for vaccinated visitors and safety protocols for travellers and locals.

These are the “Strategic Plan for the Reopening to Vaccinated Tourists” and the “Policy Measures to Promote the Internal Tourism Movement 2021-2023”.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth stressed that the novel coronavirus had generated a public health crisis and had a heavy socio-economic impact on almost all sectors.

Chief among them was tourism, which he said was a key linchpin for economic growth in the Kingdom.

Pornmoniroth said the tourism industry was the first to bear the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, as domestic trips suffered significant losses and visits from international holidaymakers dropped virtually to zero in 2020-2021.

“These two important strategic documents reflect the Royal Government’s attention and commitment to rehabilitating and promoting the tourism sector, as well as seizing opportunities from the crisis to launch in-depth reforms, to turn Cambodia into a quality, safe and sustainable tourism destination that will bear fruit, contributing to the recovery of economic growth from the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the Kingdom will reopen its doors to fully-jabbed international tourists from November 30, starting in Preah Sihanouk province – including Koh Rong – and in Koh Kong’s Dara Sakor area.

And a notice signed by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon on October 26 indicated that Siem Reap province would follow in January.

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