A Las Vegas-based consortium is looking to invest more than $100 million in developing
two Cambodian islands as tourist resorts, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh told
the Post May 21.
The Island Development Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government
to conduct a feasibility study on the development of Rung and Rung Sonleum islands
that lie between 20-30 kilometers from Sihanoukville.
The study is set to begin within the next five months and development could start
before 2004, the minister said.
"They are beautiful unspoiled islands with forests and white sandy beaches,"
Prasidh said of the proposed development site.
Under the terms of the agreement the consortium would lease the islands in their
entirety. The value of the 70-year lease is yet to be determined. A taskforce will
come up with an asking price.
In a March 18 letter from the Council of Ministers (CoM) to the Council for the Development
of Cambodia (CDC) the CoM informed the investment body of its agreement in principle
with the developers. The letter requested the CDC to "prepare a comprehensive
agreement and push to sign it as soon as possible".
According to the letter the wide ranging study will examine the feasibility of constructing
an international standard hotel, international airport, power plant, free trade area
and banking service.
Prasidh said that given the consortium's experience a casino was also a possibility,
but no final decision on the type of development would be made until after the study.
The consortium would be expected to conduct an environmental impact assessment with
officials from the Ministry of Environment, the minister said.
The government has identified tourism as a big growth area for the economy, and recognizes
the need to offer more than its main attraction, Angkor Wat, to encourage tourists
to stay longer.