A Japanese-Cambodian company currently building a holiday resort on Sihanoukville’s Hawaii beach has been given the go-ahead to build a second resort off the coast on Rong Sanleam island, government and company officials said Monday.
The Cambodian Investment Board agreed in principle to allow Emario Shonan Marine Investment to build a $100-million golf course, zoo and horse racetrack on the island, said Youn Heng, CIB deputy director of evaluation and incentive.
“The project will employ hundreds of workers…hopefully it will attract other Japanese investors to Cambodia,” he said.
Emario Shonan Managing Director Asakura Masako said the company’s 350-room hotel, shopping mall and 96-boat marina have been under construction at Hawaii beach since October 2005 and should be completed by December.
The company is currently preparing a master plan for Rong Sanleam island, she said.
“We already proposed to the government a high-class investment on the beautiful island,” she said. “We have learned that Japanese tourists and Asian visitors love the sea and beach. With airline service from Siem Reap to Sih-anoukville, we hope to serve as an international resort facility for them.”
On Jan 15, Sihanoukville’s Kang Keng Airport reopened for air traffic after years of closure.
Airport operator Societe Concessionaire des Aeroports expects four to five flights per day between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in the next few years.
“Cambodian people have a lot of money…They may not like to travel to Phuket or Bali island if Sihanoukville becomes a properly relaxing town,” she said.
Emario Shonan President Som Sok Rady said that the fee the company will pay to the government to rent Rong Sanleam is under discussion; he added that the island is an easy 30-minute trip by fast boat from Sihanoukville.
There is no word yet on what will become of the villagers currently living on Rong Sanleam island.
The news of the resort development project comes as Japan and Cambodia have opened negotiations on a bilateral investment protection agreement.
Sok Chenda, the secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, led the negotiations with Japan on Friday and Saturday.
Japanese Embassy official Kenichi Kobayashi declined to comment on the investment; other embassy officials could not be reached for comment.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Tomei)