Luxury hotel chain Sofitel, which has hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, is looking for an opportunity to open a third branch at one of Cambodia’s beach resorts, the senior vice president of Sofitel Asia Pacific said Monday.
“We would welcome completing our network of hotels in Cambodia with a beach resort,” Markland Blaiklock said.
Both the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh Sofitel hotels attract a mix of business travelers and tourists, Mr. Blaiklock said, but a coastal hotel would tap into the developing tourism market in Sihanoukville and Kep.
Mr. Blaiklock said he hopes that if a new Sofitel hotel is opened, it would replicate the success of the Siem Reap hotel.
“In Siem Reap the infrastructure growth has kept pace with the growth in demand so our business has been quite constant,” he said.
The country’s tourism industry is still very young, but Cambodia is “an exotic destination with a lot of history and consequently it’s on the list of destinations that must be seen,” Mr. Blaiklock added.
Chuk Chumno, director of tourism management and development at the Ministry of Tourism, said that as Cambodia’s coastal area grows, more visitors are heading there.
“We are trying to diversify the tourism industry by encouraging people to visit it and not just visit Siem Reap,” he said.
“We have tried to improve connections to the coast but we understand that infrastructure is still a problem. However, there are a lot of business opportunities in the hotel and tourism industry on the coast.”
Currently, the only flight to Sihanoukville is from Siem Reap.
In the first nine months of this year, 11,000 people passed through Sihanoukville International Airport, a 35 percent increase on the same period last year, according to Cambodia Airports, which operates the country’s three international airports.
Mr. Chumno added that it is hoped flights to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh will be introduced in the near future.