ADB Approves Tourism Grant For Rural Aid

New airports will soon be developed in Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces, giving tourism a boost in the two remote areas, officials said this week.

The Asian Development Bank signed an agreement on Dec 12 with the government to provide $6 million to renovate the Ratan­akkiri airport and another $2 million for an airport in Stung Treng, said Thong Khon, secretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism.

The projects are scheduled to start later this year and are scheduled to wrap up by 2007.

The $8 million airport projects are part of a $15.6 million package called the “Mekong Tour­ism Development Project,” which will also benefit Siem Reap, Siha­noukville and Phnom Penh, one ADB official said. A part of the $15.6 million will go for sewage treatment facilities in Siem Reap and Sihanouk­ville, and to improve the road leading to the “killing fields” outside of Phnom Penh.

But the bulk of the money will go for the construction of the Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng airports, the official said.

Kim Srun, director of the Ratan­ak­kiri provincial airport, said there are currently six flights per week to Ratanakkiri by Royal Phnom Penh Airways and Presi­dent Airlines, with each flight carrying about 10 to 20 passengers.

Kim Srun said he hopes that tourism will increase with the construction of the airport.

Prince Norodom Chakrapong, president of Royal Phnom Penh Air­ways, said Tuesday he was con­cerned the government will increase the “already ex­pensive” tax for domestic airlines.

He said local airlines pay much more tax for domestic flights than for international flights to Bang­kok and Vietnam. “To attract tourists [to Ratan­akkiri], the government should reduce the charges for domestic flights,” Prince Chakrapong said.

(Addi­tional reporting by David Kihara)



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