PHNOM Penh Municipality plans to spend US$1 million early next year to illuminate the city at night in order to give tourists a more beautiful view of the capital.
"We want Phnom Penh to become a tourist destination of the world," the capital's governor, Kep Chuktema, told the Post Wednesday after the inauguration of a new road.
"I think it is time for the municipality to show tourists Phnom Penh's nighttime charisma," he added.
Last month with France's help, the municipality finished a feasibility study on the project, and next week Kep Chuktema will visit France to discuss the finances of the plan. He said that the funding will come from France either in the form of aid or loans.
The project includes new streetlights and spotlights on main buildings and tourist attractions.
Both the Ministry of Tourism and city travel agents welcomed the prospect of a brighter Phnom Penh.
Ho Vandy, the president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that it could increase the number of tourists.
"I welcome this project and I believe that tourist arrivals to the city will increase between 10 to 15 percent when the project is finished," he said.
According to Ministry of Tourism statistics, 833,422 visitors passed through Phnom Penh in the first 10 months of this year - about half of the 1.7 million tourists who have travelled in Cambodia during the same period.
"This number will increase faster if the city is well-organised," said Kong Sopheareak, director of the Statistics and Tourism Information Department at the Tourism Ministry.
Independent tourism analyst Meoung Son doubted, however, that a few lights would bring more tourists to Phnom Penh.
He believes that tourists want to see things they do not already have in their own countries.
Meoung Son emphasised that during the 1960s, Phnom Penh had many tourists because of the city's old, unique buildings - not because of its lighting.
"I think the light installation is good, but I believe it won't last long, because the city is facing an electricity shortage," Meoung Son added.
But Victor Zona, director general of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, disagreed.
"I think this project will not be affected by the [current] shortage of electricity [in Phnom Penh] because the power supply from Vietnam will be ready," he said.