No major changes have been observed so far in Bokor’s market momentum and property prices in the nearly three months since the Kampot provincial town was created, with real estate experts pointing out that the latest Covid-19 outbreak has delayed many investment plans.

The government issued a sub-decree on March 16 to establish Bokor town in the western reaches of the province, adjacent to the western edge of Kampot town and comprised of three communes formerly in Teuk Chhou district – Prek Tnort, Koh Touch and Boeung Touk from west to east.

The new town has substantial overlap with Bokor National Park and will house the park’s main attractions. Surrounded by verdant jungle scenery, the park extends to bordering districts and neighbouring Preah Sihanouk province, and is nestled in the Damrei Mountains that form the southeastern section of the Cardamom Mountains.

Bokor Town Hall and other administrative offices will be in Boeung Touk commune, which is just across the boundaries of Kampot town’s Andong Khmer and Troeuy Koh communes, from north to south.

According to the Kampot Provincial Administration, Sokha Hotel Co Ltd, an investor in many large projects for the Bokor Mountain area, will provide the building to serve as Bokor Town Hall. Located near the checkpoint on the access road to Bokor National Park, the building formerly functioned as the provincial Department of Environment, it said.

On June 7, provincial governor Cheav Tay inspected the premises and gave the go-ahead to transform the building into the new town hall, calling on Sokha Hotel to work with officials and relevant authorities to start the construction process soon.

Advance Real Estate Co Ltd founder and CEO Po Eavkong told The Post on June 9 that the prolonged Covid-19 epidemic has led to stagnation in the property market of the “New Bokor area” over the past year.

Travel restrictions and concerns over coronavirus infections have prompted many investors to postpone disbursement for projects in the region, he said. “Land prices in this area have not changed so far, even though the government has decided to establish a new municipal area there.”

But once the dust settles after the transition, development in all areas will accelerate and property prices will rise in suit, Eavkong claimed.

“Given that Kampot is one of Cambodia’s main economic poles with potential in terms of tourism and industry, thus when the situation of Covid-19 can be controlled, the driving forces behind real estate buying and selling in Bokor town will recover,” the CEO said.

Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun said uncertainty surrounding the February 20 community outbreak of the novel coronavirus had left a number of key decisions pending for the new town, despite the area being renowned for its investment potential.

But once the Covid-19 pandemic is completely over, the Cambodian real estate market will witness dramatic changes, he stressed.

“Although the government has decided to establish Bokor town, the real estate market in the area has not broken out of its lethargy, or changed significantly,” Soknoeun said.

According to Eavkong, plots of land over 1ha adjacent to National Road 3 in Kampot and Bokor towns cost an average of $50-150 per square metre, while parcels on smaller roads go for under $50 and plantation land ranges from $5-15.

National Road 3 is the main thoroughfare between Kampot and Bokor towns.