PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $18 million loan to build a marine ferry terminal and other infrastructure in southern Cambodia to open up new opportunities for tourism beyond current popular destinations like the famous temples of Angkor.
“The development of this passenger pier will support an increase in tourism in southern coastal areas and help establish a new gateway between Southern Cambodia, Viet Nam and other destinations in the Gulf of Thailand,” said Eric Sidgwick, Country Director, ADB Cambodia Resident Mission.
Tourism is booming in Cambodia with visitor numbers exceeding 4.2 million in 2013. The industry provides around 800,000 jobs and contributes 12% to the country’s gross domestic product. However tourism and its benefits are mainly concentrated in Siem Reap and the temple complex of Angkor. Inadequate transport infrastructure in secondary destinations, weak market linkages between the tourism industry and other sectors, and limited capacity to promote tourism have held back Cambodia’s ability to tap the sector’s full potential.
Along with funding the construction of the ferry terminal, the project will finance upgrades to 6.5 kilometers of rural roads and improve wastewater management in areas with well-preserved Khmer and colonial architecture, including Kampot province and seaside towns in Kep and Koh Kong provinces. Business support services will be provided for at least 375 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, together with capacity building for government sector agencies including the Ministry of Tourism. The project will also facilitate private investment to run international ferry services from the new pier and provide a model for using tourist entry fees and charges to finance maintenance of public facilities.
The project, which will run for about 5 years with an estimated completion date of December 2019, complements similar initiatives being carried out in neighboring Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam. It is part of a broader regional push to expand cross-border tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion, which has seen international visitor arrivals growing by an average of more than 12% a year, generating revenue of over $44 billion, and providing about 7 million jobs.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.