A one-day rally for off-road vehicles, sponsored by a Thai car club, will be held next Sunday in the hills near Pailin.
Seng Lytheng, chief of the Pailin Tourism Department, said the event set for Sunday is the first in a series designed to draw more Thai tourism to the area.
Pailin, located west of Battambang near the Thai border, is a former stronghold of the Khmer Rouge and the center of Cambodia’s once-thriving gem mining industry.
With the collapse of both the Khmer Rouge and the mining industry, officials have been working to develop a new image for the city, as well as to find other sources of income.
“This competition will be a good way to attract Thai tourists and visitors to Pailin,” Seng Lytheng said. As many as 30 cars specially modified to handle rough conditions are expected to compete on a three-hectare course, he said.
“This is a first step. If it is successful, they will organize contests involving motorcycles [pulling] parachutes,” he said. The club is also interested in organizing events in Battambang and Siem Reap provinces, he said.
Ieng Vuth, Pailin’s deputy governor, said the event will be good for Pailin because the Thai organizers will publicize the area in Thailand.
“This promotion can make Thai people and businessmen visit and invest in Pailin,” he said. The road rally is not related to any of the town’s casinos, he said.
Seng Lytheng said the area currently gets few tourists or visitors, and both are needed to help rebuild the war-ravaged economy.
“The economic situation is not good,” he said, in part because National Route 10, the only major road leading into Pailin, is in such poor shape.
Provincial officials say plans to build a military equipment museum have been postponed by bad rice harvests.
He said the city wants to build a military equipment museum when it can afford it.
May Makk, Pailin’s cabinet chief, said the museum has been postponed because of problems with the rice harvest. “We are trying to make canals to irrigate the rice fields first, and then we can focus on this museum,” he said.