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Sihanoukville investor aims to beat downturn

Sihanoukville investor aims to beat downturn

THE latest hotel in Cambodia’s main beach resort Sihanoukville is set to open in mid-2010, the investor said, adding that he had not been discouraged by the downturn.

Frans Marchand, a Dutch investor who said he plans to pour US$1.5 million into the 60-room Cambodia Resort Hotel, said he had not been put off by the drop in air arrivals that had been the root cause of the Kingdom’s sagging tourism industry, even if total arrivals had recovered in recent months.

“During recession, I say invest,” Marchand told the Post.

In September this year, 72,671 air passengers landed at Cambodia’s two international airports, a 12.5 percent drop from 82,764 arrivals during the same month last year, according to government data.

However, increased short-term arrivals that have made up the shortfall – from countries including Vietnam – are not Marchand’s market.

Although Sihanoukville airport is ready to receive flights, according to the operating company Societe Concessionaire des Aeroports (SCA), no airline has signed up to fly to the airport.

SCA says it is in talks with airlines.

Besides the global economic downturn, another hurdle Marchand will have to overcome is his inexperience of the hotel sector.

But although this is his first hotel, after 30 years of business travel through the Kingdom, Marchand is confident about his ideas.

“I know what a hotel should look like,” he said.

The development, located 200 metres from the beach in Sihanoukville, aims to capture the high-end market with a quality level “just below five-star”, but at prices distinctly downmarket – he says he plans to set room rates at about $55 a night.

Most of the work on the structure will be complete soon, Marchand said, “with the roof going on by the end of the year.”

Sihanoukville’s latest investor in the tourism sector has taken the unusual step of purchasing an 11-room hotel and restaurant near his larger development to provide his staff with hands-on training.

“Right now the staff is all Cambodian,” he said, adding that he anticipated hiring a another Dutchman to run his venture, in order to him free him up to pursue more investment opportunities in the Kingdom.

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