New boat and bus services are intended to open up a major tourism trail from Kampot province to Vietnam’s Kien Giang province, the Tourism Ministry said Wednesday.
The extra routes are expected to more fully utilize an international checkpoint that opened last month on the border between Kep and Ha Tien in Vietnam, according to Tourism Minister Thong Khon.
Tourism officials from Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand met in Sihanoukville last week and agreed to work together to develop a joint tourism development campaign with particular emphasis on the sea corridor linking the three countries.
The Kampot to Kien Giang route will be the first concrete demonstration of this new cooperation, Thong Khon said. “We were very happy with the outcome of the meetings. I believe this will increase development all along the coastal areas,” he said.
Up to now, some buses and taxis have been using the Kampot to Ha Tien route, but the new services should kick-start the Kep and Kampot areas into becoming a major coastal tourism hub, said Thong Khon. “This is a beautiful area, and we think many tourists will be interested to come here.”
According to the state-run Vietnam News Agency, businesses from the two regions have already reached agreement on five tourism infrastructure projects totaling over $3.7 million and hoped to start construction early next year. Thong Khon could not confirm this.
Chan Sokhom, manager of Kep’s Star Inn, said that the vast majority of his customers come from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, with very few coming from Ha Tien. He expressed concern that rapid development could change the sleepy resort town.
“The government should take advice from local businesses when it comes to developing Kep the best way possible,” he said. “They don’t listen enough to us.”
The Vietnamese embassy referred all questions to the Cambodian Tourism Ministry.