Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou has asked France to look into repairing some of the derelict French colonial-era properties that he says detract from the tourism value of the northwestern province.
The request was made to French ambassador to Cambodia Jacques Pellet during a visit to the province on June 22.
Lou said France’s conservation efforts would allow Battambang to earn more income from tourism, noting that a market in the province is based out of such a building, which is currently in dilapidated condition.
He said the provincial administration has worked hard to conserve the market building and other colonial heritage areas, but commented that technical and financial issues persist.
The administration has also banned residents building any homes that may materially affect the historical value of these properties, he added.
Lou also said that initial work on upgrading Battambang Airport – also known as Veal Bek Chan Airport – to Code 4C standard is underway, after the government gave in-principle approval to the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation for the project.
For reference, in “4C”, the number four means that the airport’s runway is longer than 1,800m and the letter C signifies that the runway is designed for aircraft with a wingspan of up to 36m and landing gear where the outside edges of the outermost wheels are at most 9m apart.
The ambassador appreciated the administration’s reparation and conservation efforts on the buildings, and expressed interest in the airport project, which he said would make air freight and travel to Battambang easier and provide a boost to the provincial transportation sector.
Pellet revealed that the French embassy has given consideration to conservation efforts on heritage buildings to attract tourists, but that it first needed detailed plans on the work involved before bringing the issue up for discussion with partners in France.
He said France would be keen to step up cooperation to drive development and help market Battambang to potential travellers and investors.