The government on May 13 broke ground on the construction of a $1.5 million medium-sized multi-purpose sea port in Koh Kong province to boost trade and tourism between Cambodia and Thailand.

Provincial Department of Public Works and Transport director Orn Davuth said the new port in Khemarak Phoumin town's Smach Meanchey commune will be 69m long and 6.5m wide and paved with concrete.

Scheduled to be completed in two years, the project will also include two concrete bridges to the port 28m long and 8m wide, he said. "The new port will replace the existing one [Dang Tong Port], which has been in a derelict state for a long time."

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said the port would help boost the flow of tourists between Cambodia and Thailand, especially via waterways.

"We've observed that most tourists come to Koh Kong by land,” he said, adding that those from the southern Thai coast do not enter by waterways.

“I believe that if we had a waterway port, it'd boost tourism once Covid-19 ends, and I trust that the government would also make it easier to control the flow of goods," Sinan said.

In October, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol noted that ports in Cambodia are categorised into four classes – commercial, industrial, tourism and oil.

Speaking at a discussion about a draft law on ports, Chanthol said the Kingdom has 105 ports – 78 river ports and 27 sea ports.

“These ports play an important role in promoting all kinds of trade activities in the national, regional and international economic development process,” he said.

The trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand reached $7.236 billion last year, tumbling 23.17 per cent from 2019, according to the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Statistics show that Cambodia exported $1.148 billion in merchandise to Thailand in 2020, down 49.49 per cent on a yearly basis, and imported $6.089 billion, down 14.80 per cent year-on-year.