The Ministry of Environment awarded rights to ticket sales at Kirirom National Park and the Prek Toal bird sanctuary to locally-owned firm Lim Sok Cheng for 2021.
Kirirom National Park covers 8,401ha in Kampong Speu province and is 44km from the provincial capital of the same name.
Designated as Ramsar Site No 2245, Prek Toal covers 21,342ha in Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district and borders Siem Reap province. The area is home to more than 5,000 species of waterfowl today.
A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated to be of global importance under the Ramsar Convention – an international treaty governing the conservation of wetland areas, according to the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. The Kingdom ratified the convention on October 23, 1999.
The ministry said three companies entered the auctions, where bidding started at 350,000,000 riel ($85,600) for Kirirom and 60,000,000 riel for Prek Toal.
At a January 8 meeting, Khov Soviet, deputy chairman of the ministry’s Auction Committee announced Lim Sok Cheng’s winning bids of 826,000,000 riel for Kirirom and 76,055,000 riel for Prek Toal.
Battambang provincial Department of Tourism director Uch Umphiny Sara told The Post that Prek Toal is a natural destination home to thousands of species of birds and has great potential for tourists.
He said: “Offering up this investment opportunity in the sector is vital to the methodical development of tourist destinations to entice visitors.”
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president Chhay Sivlin said providing companies a chance to collect revenue from ticket sales at tourist areas will further galvanise the private sector to invest in the industry.
She voiced hopes that Lim Sok Cheng will expand development in the two areas and promote local tourism.
“I think the company can have a long-term vision to develop tourist areas with good services to protect the environment,” Sivlin said.
Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post that it is essential to involve all stakeholders, including the private sector, public development partners and the general public, to ensure the success of Cambodia’s sustainable tourism development within the legal framework.
He said: “We welcome all parties to invest in tourism in accordance with Cambodian law.”
The Kingdom welcomed 1,286,074 international visitors in the first 11 months of 2020, down 78.2 per cent from the 5,898,130 tallied in the same time in 2019, the tourism ministry reported.