Unspoiled Koh Rong is set to become Asia’s first environmentally planned resort island.
CAMBODIAN tourism and foreign investment continue to grow as momentum gathers pace for The Royal Group of Cambodia’s visionary plan to develop what they term Asia’s “first environmentally planned resort island”.
The country’s biggest business conglomerate, The Royal Group, with substantial interests in property and infrastructure development, is now at the forefront of developing the country’s coastal tourism, with a bold plan to transform the pristine island of Koh Rong, 30 minutes by speedboat from Preah Sihanouk province, into an eco-resort island aimed at rivaling established destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Bali.
Royal Group chairman and CEO Neak Oknha Dr Kith Meng recently unveiled a master plan to create an ecologically sound resort paradise. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment has been completed by Scott Wilson and a detailed master plan developed by MAP Architects. The first phase is set to be rolled out over the next five years.
The group’s plan for sustainable tourism development of Koh Rong – the largest of 22 islands in an archipelago off the coast – is based on a 99-year lease in perpetuity on the 78 sq km island granted to the company by the Cambodian government.
The unique lease means the island is under the control of a single owner unlike elsewhere in Asia – providing an attractive proposition to foreign investors of hotels, residential developments, marinas and golf courses and other tourism infrastructure services.
Extensive and diverse business interests with reach into so many areas of Cambodian society and its economy have established The Royal Group as Cambodia’s premier strategic gateway for serious international companies seeking to invest in this fast developing country. As Cambodia becomes more integrated into the global economy, Australian-educated Kith Meng has emerged as a key player in promoting the country to potential foreign investors as a profitable and desirable place to do business.
Now tourism is poised to play an ever increasing role in Cambodia’s economy.
“The Royal Group is now continuing its contribution to Cambodia’s tourism growth with the vision for development of Koh Rong our latest project aimed at lifting the economy by developing coastal tourism which, as Thailand has demonstrated, contributes enormously to overall tourism revenue for a country,” said Neak Oknha Dr Kith Meng.
“Tourism to Siem Reap Province is well developed with world famous Angkor Wat, but the potential of the country’s beautiful coastline is the missing link in the overall development of Cambodia’s tourism.”
Only 7.15% of international visitors in 2009 visited the Kingdom’s undiscovered beaches – even though O’Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk Province, Ream Beach and Koh Rong are ranked in the top 22 of “Asia’s Best Beaches” by Forbes Magazine.
With Vietnam, Korea, China, Japan, USA and France as the biggest markets, Cambodia now sees a golden opportunity to develop tourism along its relatively untouched coast – and persuade visitors to extend their holidays in the country, rather than proceeding to beach destinations elsewhere in Asia.
“Cambodia is conveniently located within two hours of Singapore and Hong Kong, and an hour out of Bangkok, so a vast tourism market remains untapped,” said David Simister, Chairman of CBRE Indochina, the exclusive advisor and sole agent for developing the island.
“International travelers are already showing early interest in the concept of luxury tourism on the ‘Indochinese Riviera’ and Koh Rong stands out as one of the region’s most beautiful assets, with the benefit of having a sufficient size for critical mass, an airport, infrastructure and to evolve in the same manner as Phuket, but without the mistakes found in established resort destinations,” said Simister.
In the Koh Rong archipelago, Song Saa Private Island is already taking shape and is due for completion in late 2011. The project’s success in the first phase of villa sales last year proved there is interest in tourism and real estate in Cambodia’s coastline.
In Preah Sihanouk Province itself, a number of villa projects have emerged since 2007, but the city now only boasts a limited number of high-end hotels, compared with Siem Reap province which offers a range of three- to five-star hotels, with high-end groups such as Raffles, Aman and Orient Express all having a presence in Siem Reap and commanding rates which can reach US$1,000 a night.
More information: www.kohrong.com.kh. Sources Tourism Cambodia and traveldailynews.