A South Korean developer has been granted permission to build a massive resort complex, including a casino, near the Angkor Wat temple complex, the company’s vice-president said yesterday.
“The Cambodian Development Council and [Prime Minister] Hun Sen have approved an integrated resort…with a gaming center…20 km from the Angkor Wat temples,” said James Cho, vice-president of Seoul-based real estate and investment firm Intercity Group.
The resort will cost around $400 million, he said, and will be constructed in two phases, each costing around $200 million. The first phase will include four- and five-star hotels, a water park, shopping malls, a golf course and a casino, he added.
It will be situated around 20 km north of Siem Reap International Airport, well outside the Angkor Archaeological Park, Mr Cho said.
Former King Norodom Sihanouk established the 401-sq-km park on May 28, 1994 to protect and preserve the myriad temples dotted around the region.
Sok Chenda, CDC secretary-general, declined to comment yesterday.
Construction is due to begin in October, and the first phase should be completed in early 2012, according to international media reports.
“This is a rare exception that the CDC has made to grant a gaming license,” Mr Cho said, adding that the project was part of government efforts to further develop the country’s tourism industry.
NagaCorp, which owns the capital’s NagaWorld Casino, is the only gaming venue allowed to operate outside of the country’s border areas. The amount of government revenue derived from Cambodia’s 25 casinos was approximately $17.5 million in 2009.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the development could not help but benefit tourism.
“Foreign tourists would stay longer in Siem Reap” if the project goes ahead, he said.
Noeu Seiha, a senior researcher at the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said the casino would need to be strictly regulated.
“This casino could attract more tourist but we must have a strict law to manage it. By law, Cambodians are not allowed to enter such a casino,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Ian Williamson)