A recently-minted coastal town in the southwestern province of Kampot has generated very high hopes for investment, development and jobs in the area.

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 will have significant overlap with Bokor National Park – which extends to bordering districts and neighbouring Preah Sihanouk province – and will house the park’s main attractions.

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.

Provincial governor Cheav Tay praised the decision as a long time coming, telling The Post on March 31 that the concept of a “Bokor town” had existed since the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime of then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk in the 1950s and 1960s, but had never become a reality.

While progress has been limited in the 15 days since the town’s creation, Tay contended that infrastructure spending and the newly-founded administrative system would spur development and quickly unleash the area’s potential.

With the province’s enduring reputation as a popular seaside destination and biodiversity and ecotourism hotspot, Teuk Chhou’s former communes are better positioned to generate new investment and tourism potential at a heightened pace, he said.

Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun told The Post that Kampot can be considered the second most favourable coastal province for investment, after Preah Sihanouk.

He said the area’s new status as a town would prove to be a magnet for international investment.

With its sparse population and shared border with Preah Sihanouk, Bokor town will draw in many large-scale investment projects from international investors, especially the Chinese, he said.

“Wooing investors to relocate to the area is the long-term vision of the government. The area boasts potential not only for tourism but also for the construction of international ports. The location will be very attractive for Chinese investors,” Soknoeun said.

According to him, the price of seaside land in Bokor town now averages around $100 per sqm.

Khmer Foundation Appraisals Co Ltd president and CEO Nuon Rithy told The Post that the town will bring a lot of positives for investors, the government and the people, and heat up the real estate market.

The new designation will enable the state to provide more services to the public, build infrastructure and create a clear development plan with the assistance of newcomer investors, he said.

“The establishment of Bokor town can be said to be another new opportunity for the Cambodian government to attract more investments and a source of income for the country,” Rithy said.

Kampot has become the fourth of the Kingdom’s 24 provinces with two towns after Banteay Meanchey (Sisophon and Poipet), Svay Rieng (Svay Rieng and Bavet) and Preah Sihanouk (Sihanoukville and Koh Rong). The province now has two towns and six districts.