Cambodian airport project includes new city

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A South Korean company contracted to build a new airport serving visitors to Cambodia’s famed Angkor temples says its $1 billion project will also encompass a new city and industrial estate.

NSRIA Co. Ltd. in a statement received Thursday said its planned New Siem Reap International Airport and linked developments represent Cambodia’s “largest national project” and Korea’s first-ever export of its airport development and operation expertise.

The statement, which expands upon partial information released by the Cambodian government and in the Korean press, said its concession for the project spans 65 years — covering five years of construction and 60 years of operation — after which it can be extended.

NSRIA is Cambodian joint venture whose main investors are two South Korean companies, Lees A&A Co. Ltd. and Camko Airport Co. Ltd.

The statement said the project will include an adjacent “Special Economic Zone,” a dry port and a 15.4 square mile (40 square kilometer) city.

South Korea in recent years has become a major investor in Cambodia, ranking number two after China by some measurements. However, some ambitious Korean-funded real estate developments in Phnom Penh, the capital, have stalled.

The new airport will be able to handle Boeing 747s, making it the country’s first capable of handling direct long haul flights from Europe and North America, said the statement. The area is currently served by a modern but small airport.

The airport will be located 25 miles (40 km) east of Angkor Wat, the statement said, alleviating concerns about potential noise and vibration damage to the centuries-old temples at Angkor, Cambodia’s main tourist attraction.

There is concern that the temples, already damaged by warfare, looting and the ravages of weather, could be harmed by a greater influx of tourists.

Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2011, with operations to start in late 2015. At the end of the $500 million first phase, the airport will have the capacity to handle 4 million passengers a year, and will be able to handle 15 million after expansion.

Cambodia had 2.3 million visitors this year, with about half of them visiting the temples, according to Kong Sophearak, statistics director for the Tourism Ministry.

The statement said the special economic zone will provide an alternative for South Korean companies to investing in China and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam where labor costs are rising from low levels.

Bou Sra waterfall needs to be developed for more tourists

By Sun Narin

Sound of water falling and flowing on the rock is very attractive to the visitors. Bou Sra waterfall is a Mondulkiri provincial ecotourism attraction site where the visitors can enjoy swimming and seeing view of dense forests and water falling from the mountain.

It is located 43 kilometers from the downtown on the way to the mountain in Pich Chenda district.  Previously, the road to the site was rough and difficult to travel, but now it is adequately-good to get into the area since the authority has been repairing the road to facilitate the travelling.

According to Bou Sra waterfall official, from 70 to 80 percent of some 40, 000 tourists coming to Mondulkiri went to visit Bou Sra waterfall this year. A thousand tourists came to the area every day during Khmer New Year this year – an increase of 15 to 20 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

However, the visitors have been complaining about the non-development and poor management of this beautiful natural tourist site.

Song Kim Sour, a student from Royal University of Phnom Penh who visited there, said that this tourist site was very popular with beautiful Bou Sra waterfall, but it has not been adequately-developed yet.

“I think all the visitors want to see and enjoy there, but there are no suitable places for eating, restroom and food and material selling yet,” adding that the authority should develop the area, maintaining the environment and organize it orderly to attract more tourists to visit.

Doung Vatey, a visitor from Phnom Penh, said that Bou Sra is a nice natural tourist site, but the management there is not good and it seems that the authority does not care about this.

“They allow people to eat near the water and there are no signs of not throwing rubbish. They take money of 1000 Riel from each visitor, but there is less development,” she said.

In 2009, Sar Lar Investment Co authorized by Tourism Ministry to own the 99-year lease on the Mondulkiri site, was set to develop the Bou Sra Waterfall Resort with 6 million dollars budget, a complex of 40 hotels, restaurants, and shops surrounding the well-known attraction and the development would sell souvenirs produced by Mondulkiri’s ethnic minorities, benefiting them economically. However, the plan was cancelled due to the capital concerns of the company.

Since then, the company gave this area to the Tourism Ministry’s control and Ministry allowed the provincial authority to contemporarily control.

Ngin Sovimean, director of Mondulkiri’s tourism department, said that the authority was aware that people are not satisfied with the service and management there and it has been working to deal with the issue, but is facing financial problem.

“We have our development project and design already, but we are lacking finance. We are finding budget and asking for company’s investment,” revealing that the first project will cost around 700,000 dollars and need several million dollars more.

The first project will cover eating place, playing place, art site, souvenir gallery, guesthouses, swaying String Bridge and many other interesting things, according to Sovimean.

“To date, we have not benefited from that yet. Money that we get from selling the ticket just pays for the caretakers there,” said Ngin Sovimean, adding that he has created commission and work team to manage and develop the area.

“I hope that if the project happens, it [Bou Sra] will attract more tourists and fulfill tourist demand for accommodation and indigenous people can get great benefits from that,” he said.