Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

A view of Koh Rong island. Photo supplied
A view of Koh Rong island. Photo supplied

Development plans for Koh Rong and nearby islands unchanged by marine park

Businesses expect the establishment of Cambodia’s first marine national park covering seven coastal islands to boost tourism in the area, while government officials said yesterday it would not affect private development scheduled for the islands.

A sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday designated 52,448 hectares of national park off Cambodia’s southern coast, but only 5,311 hectares of that area was land. The two most popular and developed islands on the list, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, have land masses of about 7,800 hectares and 2,450 hectares, respectively, and thus are not entirely covered by the designation.

Local conglomerate Royal Group, owned by Kith Meng, was granted a concession to develop Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem in 2008, and planned to spend $2 billion to turn large swaths of the island into a “luxury resort destination”, according to Bloomberg’s news service.

Those plans are unlikely to be affected by the recent announcement, according to Preah Sihanouk province’s Deputy Governor Kong Vitanak.

“The national park will not impact to small business holders, investors, developers or villagers,” he said yesterday.

Vitanak said that the exact areas that would belong to the national park had not yet been finalised, as officials from the Ministry of Environment were still measuring the area. A spokesman for the ministry could not be reached yesterday.

“This is the first national park in the coastal province, and it is a key to attract both international and national tourists” Vitanak said.

Taing Socheat Kroesna, director of the province’s Department of Tourism, welcomed the news of the national park and said it would promote tourism as well as protect the country’s coast.

“It opens the opportunity for investors who are looking for developing, in terms of protecting the natural resources,” he said.

Ty Sochea, an operations manager at Koh Rong’s Long Set Resort, said that if the national park was truly enforced, it would provide benefits to the island’s tourism industry.

“If we have a national park on the island, I am sure our business would be better than it is now,” he said yesterday. “It will give more options to tourists who will not only enjoy the beach and coral.”

Royal Group’s massive development plans on the two islands, which at one point included an airport, hotels, polo and golf fields and a marina, have been slow to get off the ground. The company’s first completed development, the luxury resort Royal Sands Koh Rong, opened in December, more than eight years after the firm received the development concession.

The company’s plans have occasionally put it at loggerheads with local authorities and villagers. In 2015, island residents held a sit-in to protest the construction of a road by the company, and the next year a Preah Sihanouk coastal working group halted Royal Group’s construction of a port on the island, claiming that proper permission had not been granted.

Later in 2016, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on his Facebook page that, “Island development projects that are not active shall be examined and taken back.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway