siem reap town – Prime Minister Hun Sen promised Friday to create more flights to Siem Reap to promote tourism in Cambodia at a ceremony celebrating the completed renovations of the Siem Reap Airport.
“Tourism can provide more income and more jobs to our people,” Hun Sen said at the inauguration. “We have a goal of developing Siem Reap.”
The renovations to the airport, which took four years to complete, include improved security, safety and more passenger services including round-the-clock landings and departures, Keo Saphal, undersecretary of state for the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation, said Friday.
The main objective of the renovations was to upgrade the airport’s infrastructure—improving the control tower and navigational and communication equipment, as well as constructing runway approach lights to illuminate the runway for night flights, he said.
“With the successful completion of this project, Siem Reap Airport is well prepared to receive the rapidly growing tourist traffic visiting the ancient city of Angkor and contribute to the economic development of the Siem Reap area,” Keo Saphal said in a prepared speech.
He added that future renovations include development of another airfield and a terminal. The upgrades were paid for in part by a $15 million Asian Development Bank loan, he said.
With tourism in Cambodia booming and the success of the “open skies” policy that allows international flights at Siem Reap, passenger traffic at Siem Reap Airport has increased substantially, making it the second gateway into Cambodia next to Pochentong Airport, Keo Saphal said.
Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth, speaking after the inauguration ceremony, said there has been a 25 percent increase in tourism this year, compared with 2001.
Statistics provided by the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation comparing passenger traffic at Siem Reap Airport to Pochentong International Airport show that 253,672 visitors went through Siem Reap between January and September, compared with 556,760 going through Pochentong Airport during the same period.