For the past two decades, Siem Reap has enjoyed a steady increase in tourists, which has largely driven the famed templed city’s recent construction sector growth.
Consisting mostly of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants, these commercial spaces catering to tourists are concentrated just about seven kilometres to the south of Angkor Wat.
Amid the growing construction race, however, there remain two hotels of considerable size – along the prime area of National Road 6 – that have yet to be completed, having remained stagnant for more than ten years.
Of the two abandoned hotel projects on National Road 6, the first one lies on a land plot bigger than one hectare on the east of Siem Reap’s riverbank, opposite the Borei Angkor Hotel nearby the Thom Thmei Market. The second project, meanwhile, sits on a two-hectare land plot between Siem Reap’s city centre and its national airport.
Chea Savy, a Siem Reap resident, said, “From what I remember, the hotel-like project on National Road 6 around Phsar Ler started construction in 2007, but it is now 2016 and there has been no progress on its construction.”
Ho Vandy, an advisor to Cambodia’s Chamber of Commerce and former head of a tourism company said, “These two unfinished hotels have potential in this tourist area. They should’ve been finished and opened, but we don’t know how deep the problems are as well as the internal issues between the two investors.”
He added that there are now around 20 to 30 three to five-star hotels being renovated in Siem Reap.
“Recently, the hotel sector is becoming increasingly competitive and all the hotels are upgrading their amenities and luxuriousness,” Vandy said.
“Some hotel owners need to renovate their properties to stay updated with the world’s demands on the tourism sector,” he added.
Kim Chhay Heang, Siem Reap’s deputy provincial governor, confirmed that the two unfinished hotels have been there for almost one and two decades respectivley, and have been seemingly abandoned for years.
It is understood that one of the hotels was to be named ‘Monoreach Hotel’, but Chhay Heang was unsure if the proposed development was supposed to be a hotel or hospital.
“It is hard for us to get information on these companies’ issues,” he said.
“Any developer who wants to open a hotel, guesthouse, or restaurant needs to request for a legal permit or business license from the Ministry of Tourism.”
“Our provincial authorities can only give the investors the letter of permit so that they can start running a business on those permitted locations,” Chhay Heang noted.
A vendor in Siem Reap, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that the land of one of the developments belongs to a high-ranking official working in the Ministry of Interior.
According to Chhay Heang, Siem Reap now has around 200 hotels totalling approximately 20,000 rooms. This figure does not include some 300 other tourist accommodations like guesthouses and boutique hotels.
“The number of tourists to Siem Reap will continue to increase annually at about 12 per cent, and so the number of accommodation has to correspond to this amount,” he said.
Sou Platong, governor for Siem Reap City, admitted that there are grand – but unfinished – projects in the city. Claiming that the incomplete developments are too big for City Hall to handle, Platong said that “we do not plan to intervene with the investors.”
“The City Hall here reserves all the rights to manage every construction project ranging from one to 500 square metres only,” he said.
“Anything bigger than that will be handled by the provincial authorities, and the biggest ones will fall into the hands of the Apsara authority,” Platong said.
The authority did not respond to questions before deadline.