More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday.
The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and Malaysian company SV International.
According to a statement from the companies, the project will be developed on a 65-hectare plot in the southern coastal town and will include water parks, hotels, casinos, malls, gardens and churches.
AMC and SV claim they have been operating a hotel and casino in Sihanoukville; however neither of their websites reveal the name of this establishment.
The Wisney World project is operating as a joint venture under the name Wisney Resort City Development Co Ltd (WRCD).
Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An said that currently Sihanouk province is becoming a more popular tourist destination and is attracting international investment .
She said this new project will bring in more tourists--both foreigners and Cambodians.
“The starting of this project is the right decision because now Sihanoukville is regarded as a rising star in the south east of Cambodia,” she said, “I hope that Wisney World will fill gaps that are lacking in Sihanoukville’s entertainment sector.”
Over 1.2 million Chinese visitors came to Cambodia last year, accounting for more than 21 percent of the total 5.6 million international visitors, according to figures from the Ministry of Tourism.
Much of the investment in tourism has been focused on bringing visitors from China to the Kingdom’s coastal town of Sihanoukville.
However, Sihanouk provincial governer, Yun Min said he don’t know of any huge project like this in his province.
“I don’t know about this project,” he said.
Sorn Seap, director of Phnom Penh’s Key Real Estate, claimed that he also wasn’t aware of the project, but said Sihanoukville holds potential for success.
“I know that the companies from China have a lot of money,” he said, “but such expensive projects, there must be strong support from the international market to be successful.”
As the beach town changes and the government welcomes the surge in development spending, many local owners have asserted that Chinese investment has created a closed loop with few new opportunities for Cambodians, forcing locals out of any potential economic gain.
Many local business owners have expressed worry that they will be edged out by the influx of Chinese investment.