The finance ministry has launched the Mondulkiri Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-2035, which lays out strategic directions for the development of the northeastern province’s tourism landscape with the aim of making it a part of Cambodia's fourth economic pole.
The launch of the master plan was presided over by Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance and National Tourism Development Committee chairman, according to a press release issued by the ministry on April 7.
The government was said to have prepared and implemented the master plan in response to national development goals – namely, to contribute to the development of the northeastern region – during the plan’s 15-year period.
Mondulkiri Provincial Administration deputy director and spokesman Neang Vannak told The Post after the launch that he was not aware of the key aspects of the plan, but expressed confidence that it would contribute to and speed up tourism development in the Kingdom’s largest province.
“The arrangement is good for the province. As is well known, the vision as well as the definition of the government [is that Mondulkiri will be] among the provinces of the fourth economic pole,” he said.
In early February, Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed his position on establishing Cambodia’s fourth economic pole in the “northeastern region”, with a focus on agro-industry and mineral resources to spur national economic growth. Although the premier did not specifically list the localities considered for the composition of the new economic pole, the northeastern region typically comprises the quartet of Kratie, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri provinces.
Vannak went on to say: “Given that the Ministry of Tourism has personally studied the tourism development plan, it probably has a lot of tourism development projects lined up for our province.”
He noted that there are currently about 100 tourist sites and resorts in Mondulkiri province, but that only some of them have access roads. He expected that the master plan would contribute to better development in this area of the province’s tourism.
Ky Sereyvath, economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he believed that the master plan was a strategic kick-start of the tourism sector, and expected that similar plans would also be implemented in other provinces that have a focus on tourism.
Sereyvath noted that though Mondulkiri’s key attraction is its unspoiled nature, biodiversity and lush greenery, the area is still critically underdeveloped. He said he expected that after the development of a plan for the area, its real estate prices will increase and the economy will grow.
“As a result of this master plan, it will be possible to create jobs and a better economy, but also to promote education in the area so that people can benefit from this plan” through taking up jobs in tourism and hospitality, he said.
At the close of 2021, the government issued a sub-decree to establish the steering committee for the implementation of the Mondulkiri tourism master plan, naming Minister of Tourism Thong Khon as chairman; the environment, agriculture and culture ministers, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) chief and provincial governor as deputy chairpersons; and leaders of 20 ministries and institutions as members.
The master plan will complement a 2021-2025 three-phased national tourism roadmap and a 2021-2035 Siem Reap provincial tourism development master plan designed to navigate the sector’s emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic and support its recovery.
A regional airport is planned for O’Raing district’s Sen Monorom commune in the province, which the government has said would be built on a 300ha site and developed with an estimated capital investment of $80 million. SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post that the project could break ground this year.