Infrastructural projects like railway completions, airport expansions, and road widening have been fast-tracking growth in Cambodia.
As a result, the tourism sector is experiencing a sudden surge. According to the Ministry of Tourism, around 2.7 million international visitors traveled to Cambodia. Leading the herd of visitors are the neighboring Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and South Koreans. So, this is being utilized as a resource towards a better tourism strategy.
Though declining to communicate project cost and timeline, Chinese-owned development company Tianjin Union Development Group (UDG) announced last week that a plan to construct a coastal airport has already been finalized and that “a geological survey and initial design work has been concluded for this high-grade international airport.” This is according to a representative from UDG. The representative adds, “The construction is ready to go.”
The Union Development Group signed a 99-year lease with the government and has been developing projects in its 45,000-hectare of land concession in the districts of Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor since 2008. Along with this is the government’s commitment to deny any application to construct new airports in the area, making UDG’s development the main airport of the province.
The Bigger Picture:
Most of the arrivals into Cambodia go through Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, accounting to around 90 percent of visitor arrivals. In comparison, coastal areas only received 8.8 percent of visitors who mostly arrive either by sea or by land. The developers are hopeful that this move will bring that number up. This airport will be a part of a bigger plan that includes the Dara Sakor Seashore Resort and a free trade zone with ports. And much like the expansion project of the Sihanoukville airport, the construction of the new airport in Koh Kong is expected to address any possible congestion.
The airport development will be a part of the UDG’s $3.8 billion dollar plan to turn Koh Kong province into one of Cambodia’s main tourist destinations. Once completed, this airport is expected to bring in planes as big as an Airbus 380 and around 10 million travelers.
So, will the construction of the Koh Kong airport allow the province to soar high or struggle to fly? We just have to wait for more details about the project to see.