The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration – in collaboration with the Khmer Dive Group – has set up a seabed war museum in the Ta Kieu archipelago near Ream to attract scuba-diving tourists, according to Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche.

Dimanche spoke about the project during a visit to Koh Rong with a group of senior journalists led by the Club of Cambodian Journalists on April 26.

According to Dimanche, on the seabed near the Ta Kieu archipelago, there are some remnants of warplanes such as fighter jets from World War II as well as some other remnants from Cambodia’s war sunk there.

“This is a point that I think is important and I myself, as a diver, would like to call on all of our young Cambodians who practise diving to dive down to see the seabed, which proves that Cambodia does not just have resorts, national tourism park on the mainland,” he said.

Long Dimanche said that in Preah Sihanouk, there are a total of 32 islands with potential for use as diving resorts for tourists.

He noted that the Cambodian seabed off Preah Sihanouk is full of beautiful coral reefs and rich with marine biodiversity, including sites at Koh Rong, Koh Tang, Koh Poulo Wai and others.

“We’ve seen in neighbouring countries that sometimes coral reefs are not enough and they are willing to buy old, obsolete planes and repaint them and drop them down so that the coral can grow on them for tourists to see. In Cambodia, we have all kinds of coral, all kinds of biodiversity, especially very beautiful fish,” he said.

Dimanche urged young Cambodians to learn how to dive down to the seabed and explore the country’s natural resources. He said that understanding the natural resources of the seabed is the reason why it was easy for the authorities to compile and make a list for conservation of natural resources of the seabed, which is a measure to prevent degradation and damage such as pollution of the marine environment.

At a press conference on the potential of Preah Sihanouk on Koh Krabei on April 26, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that Cambodia’s coral reefs are beautiful and unlike coral in some regions that are being affected by climate change, causing them to wither.

He said that Cambodian coral reefs are still alive and attractive, but they need protection.

“Our nation is very beautiful at Koh Rong Samloem, so the whole world comes to study it. Under the sea in Koh Rong Samloem it is very beautiful. There is a group from New Zealand who came to study it and they stayed for six months because our seabed is clean and not affected much yet by climate change, whereas we see pictures of coral in other seas and they are all wilted,” he said.

Speaking at the conference, Preah Sihanouk governor Kuoch Chamroeun said the basic potential for the development of tourism in the province rests with its beautiful beaches and other natural resources.

Chamroeun also said the islands that are attracting a lot of tourists today are the more well-developed islands, such as Koh Krabei, Koh Russey, Koh Song Saa, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem islands.

“Development activities on all the islands have given people the opportunity to live, invest and engage in tourism and fishing, and the investment has provided a lot of jobs for our people who are looking for work, as well as attracting foreign investors,” he said.