Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer.

Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that the preliminary phase of construction is slated to be completed in April, with hotels, restaurants, bungalows, camps, clubs and swimming pool set to be added in the following months.

He said: “We’ll get into the architectural decoration once all the structure is completed, though I can’t conclusively tell how far along we’ll be [by April] judging by how much there is to be done in terms of interior and exterior embellishments such a gardens, concrete roads, beach aesthetics, and so on.”

A 99-year investment lease on Koh Preus, located about 2km from Otres beach in Prey Nop district’s Ream commune with a total area of 56.28ha, was granted to local company ARE in 2008, according to Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesman Kheang Phearum.

He said there are 32 islands in the province, including Koh Song Saa, Koh Krabei and Koh Russey islands.

Oem Senghou, branch manager of Century 21 Zillion Holding in the provincial capital of Sihanoukville, notes that Chinese investment and small business activity in the province has seen a steady recovery since Prime Minister Hun Sen in August 2019 ordered a ban on online gambling effective from the start of 2020.

He said: “I’ve seen a steady influx of Chinese into small and medium-sized businesses, and rents for commercial buildings seem to be rising by between 20 and 30 per cent.”

But he pointed out that land prices in the province have stagnated, currently ranging from $3,500-4,000 per sqm in some areas, and as low as $2,800-3,000 per sqm others.

“In the last three months of last year, the influx of Chinese investors to Preah Sihanouk increased from 30-40 per cent since the closure of online gambling,” Senghou said.

Chinese direct investment in Cambodia reached $860 million in the first 11 months of last year, up 70 per cent from the corresponding period of the previous year, the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh said on January 1.

Capital investment in the Kingdom’s construction sector in the first nine months of last year fell 9.6 per cent to $5.868 billion from $6.494 billion in the same time in 2019, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction reported.

The ministry in 2019 approved 4,446 construction projects (up 55.07 per cent from 2,867 in 2018), worth some $9.353 billion (up 78.88 per cent from $5.228 billion in 2018), on a total area of 18.54 million sqm (up 62 per cent from 11.42 million sqm in 2018), it said.