Development of a domestic airport in Mondulkiri province, in the northern economic corridor of Cambodia, backed by an $80 million investment is behind schedule as the latest outbreak of the novel coronavirus remains active.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on October 13 that the latest community outbreak, ensuing lockdown, and tightening of travel curbs have all contributed to work delays.

He emphasised that Cambodia and China have two-week coronavirus quarantine requirements, and that returning Chinese specialists are obliged to undergo Covid-19 tests “recognised by the Chinese embassy here” and spend a third week at home after the initial fortnight of isolation.

These prolonged self-isolation demands “make it difficult for Chinese experts to come and work in and out of our country and China. We hope that once the restrictions are eased, they will resume the work”, he added.

In a December 31 letter, the Council of Ministers, or Cabinet, said the government had decided in principle to allow PowerChina International Group Ltd (PIG) to study and develop a proposal to build the project, adding that the Chinese company would have to foot the bill for the project’s initial feasibility study.

The government also authorised the SSCA to lead the preparation of a Framework Agreement with PIG in accordance with applicable procedures. PIG has since completed a feasibility study report for the development of the airport and nearby industrial park.

The airport will be built on a 300ha site and may break ground as soon as next year, Chansereyvutha said earlier.

Former Mondulkiri governor Svay Sam Eang previously told The Post that provincial authorities are demarcating a 600ha plot for the new airport some 22km south of Sen Monorom town in O’Raing district’s Sen Monorom commune.

In late August, the central government approved the draft Mondulkiri Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035, amid a wider initiative to attract about three million domestic and international tourists annually to the regional verdant biodiverse powerhouse in northeastern Cambodia by 2035.

The master plan will complement a 2021-2025 three-phased national tourism roadmap and a 2021-2035 Siem Reap provincial tourism development master plan – formally approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 1 – to navigate the sector’s emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic and support its recovery, the Cabinet noted in a letter on August 12.

In a letter on August 9, Hun Sen asserted that tourism in Mondulkiri is in a period of growth, with broad potential for development, and that the master plan would greatly accelerate economic growth in the province and the rest of the Kingdom.

“With all this potential, and under long-term and comprehensive deliberation, the Royal Government has prepared and launched the Mondulkiri Tourism Development Master Plan, as a compass to indicate the key mechanisms and strategic directions for tourism development in Mondulkiri province, in connection with the vision of national transformation over the 2021-2035 period and the years to come,” he said.