Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared Siem Reap a “rising star” in the north of Cambodia, drawing parallels with Preah Sihanouk’s dominance in the southwest, as he lauded the province’s impressive strides made in socioeconomic and infrastructural development that have been crested by its new international airport.

During an inspection ceremony for the new Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on April 3, Hun Sen said that it was time for Cambodia to declare the cultural and historical province the “rising star in the north” following in Preah Sihanouk province’s footsteps as the “rising star in the southwest”, given that the home of world-famous Angkor Wat has achieved rapid progress in its socio-economic and infrastructural development.

“Another rising star, this time in the north – it's about time we say so,” he said. “We have made a lot of progress on the [economic] connections between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, to Banteay Meanchey and Battambang, coupled with injecting a lot of capital investment into Siem Reap and building good support infrastructure in the provincial town for the giant international airport,” he said.

The prime minister said that the “rising star in the north” title does not only refer to the economic development in Siem Reap, but also the economic development in the surrounding provinces, including Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Thom and part of Preah Vihear province.

Hun Sen stated that a satellite city has been planned around the new international airport in Sotr Nikum district east of Siem Reap town, which will be designated as a residential area, and noted that the investment in the airport would not only benefit shareholders, but also the people of the province and across the nation through the facilitation of increased tourism.

Siem Reap Provincial Administration spokesman Ly Samrith told The Post that the region had already been developing itself long before being declared a “rising star”. Nonetheless, he expressed appreciation for the title, saying it would be a catalyst for a further increase in pace of socio-economic development in Siem Reap and lead to more tourists and businesses taking interest in the province.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen’s designation of our province as a ‘rising star’ promotes the growth of development in tandem with the launch of our new international airport, and will doubly increase the growth of tourism, business and services,” he said.

Samrith echoed the prime minister’s views that, as the province grows and develops economically and socially, its people, as well as those throughout Cambodia, will benefit from its progress.

The government set aside $150 million from the national budget to revamp 38 roads in Siem Reap to enhance the beauty of the province in a bid to attract tourists. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport affirmed on April 2 that the roads would be inaugurated on April 4.

The Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is being built on a 750ha plot of land with capital investment of approximately $900 million. The project has reached 22 per cent completion as of end-March, according to an announcement by a State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesperson, with a test landing scheduled for October 2023.