The government awarded developers 99-year leases for two islands off the coast of Sihanoukville on Thursday, bringing the total number of leased islands to 11, officials said.
In two separate deals, Koh Russey Resort Co Ltd will develop 78 of 137 hectares on Koh Russey island, while Royal Group will develop a resort on the 7,826-hectare Koh Rong island, company officials said.
Royal Group has 18 months to submit master plans to the Ministry of Environment, the Council of Ministers and the Council for the Development of Cambodia; Koh Russey Co has a year to submit plans for its $48-million resort, CDC Secretary-General Suon Sitthy said. Both plans must leave vast areas of the land untouched for eco-tourism, he said.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said coastal developments are key to ensure the continued growth of Cambodia’s already booming tourist industry. From 2006 to 2007, coastal tourism increased 39 percent, he said.
“Cambodia not only has Angkor Wat, but we have other great places for tourists,” he said. Eco-tourism is a priority for the ministry, so developers must find a balance between their resorts and the environment, he said.
Kith Meng, chairman of Royal Group, said he could not estimate the cost of the resort on Koh Rong until after the completion of the master plan. Nevertheless, the investment will be substantial and will include an airport, roads, a water system, a hotel and other infrastructure, he said. The development will strive to maintain the island’s natural beauty and appeal to eco-tourists, Kith Meng said.
“It is an eco-tourism resort, so the environment will surely be protected,” he said.
Koh Russey Co is owned by the Singapore-based holding company City Star Group, which won rights last year to develop a portion of Takeav Island.
Koh Russey Co CEO Etienne Chenevier said his company will hire an architect to study the island, and that the development will be designed to have minimal impact on the environment.
“You must take care of the island otherwise your island will be destroyed,” he said.