A third PGA-rated golf course in Siem Reap officially opens today with Prime Minister Hun Sen hitting the inaugural tee-off.
South Korea-based KTC Co invested $150 million over the past 13 months to build Siem Reap Lake Golf Resort, company CEO Kim Myung-il said by telephone Sunday.
Located 6 km outside Siem Reap town and created by well-known Japanese designer Kentaro Sato, the 18-hole course is the first phase of a $450 million project to open villas, a hotel, a water park and a horseracing track on the property by July 2010, Kim said through a translator.
“We made this plan three years ago, and now it is being realized,” he said.
Kim said Hun Sen’s strong leadership attracted KTC to Cambodia, and he invited the premier to attend the golf course’s official opening ceremony this morning.
While a reeling global economy is cause for some international investors to scale down or halt their Cambodia projects, Kim said KTC has the funds to continue investing and expects to turn a profit on the new resort within seven to eight years.
“My strategy is to invest even in difficult times. I can invest while the others cannot,” said Kim, who is normally based at the company’s Korea headquarters.
KTC, which produces wires and cables, is the parent company of KTC Cable Co Ltd, which runs a cable-producing factory in Phnom Penh. The golf course will operate under the banner of KTC Leisure Co Ltd.
KTC posted $500 million in revenues in 2008, Kim said, and already has experience opening a golf course outside Tokyo.
While two PGA-rated courses in Siem Reap already jockey for golfers, Kim said it won’t be difficult to attract visitors to his course.
Tourism Ministry Secretary of State So Mara said a third golf course in Siem Reap will boost overall tourism and defended the project’s feasibility, arguing that Cambodia is relatively isolated from the global economic crisis.
“It is very good for Cambodia as a destination,” he said by telephone Sunday.
“We need to combine a lot of products…and golf courses of international standard to convince people to stay longer.”
Siem Reap’s two other golf courses both expect the new arrival to boost the city as a golf destination and attract more visitors to every course.
“It’s fantastic. We’re looking forward to the competition,” said Adam Robertson, golf operations manager at Angkor Golf Resort, adding: “It’d be great if we had a fourth course to make Siem Reap a true golf destination.”
Angkor Golf Resort had about 730 visitors a month in 2008 and hoped to attract 800 a month in 2009, said Robertson, but that forecast has been lowered due to the political situation in Thailand and the global economic crisis.
Phokeethra Country Club also felt a recent decline in visitors, said clubhouse manager Maximilian Kaendler, but he added that a new resort should boost the number of visiting golfers.
“Hopefully it inspires other people to come. With two courses, people were already extending their stay. Now you’ve got three days of golf. That extends the package even further,” Kaendler said by telephone Sunday.