S’ville Airport To Be Expanded in Tourism Bid

Seen as a key to developing Cambodia’s tourism, Sihanouk­ville’s Kang Keng Airport will be expanded with a $35 million loan made official this week, government officials said.

The loan will “extend and transform this airport into a dynamic and international one,” Finance Minister Keat Chhon said at Wednesday evening’s signing ceremony, according to a statement provided by the Finance Ministry. “This will inevitably result in sustained economic growth.”

According to the Finance Ministry, the International Finance Corporation—the private sector arm of the World Bank—and French development agency Proparco have provided the loan to Societe Concessionaire des Air­ports, the company that operates the Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports.

The loan will be used to extend the runways to 2,500 meters by the middle of the year and eventually add 4 km of runways, according to information from the SCA. An SCA representative could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to the IFC Web site, an additional $6.4 million loan will help in developing the Siem Reap airport.

In 2004, Proparco and the IFC each supplied $10 million in loans to SCA to develop the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports, the Web site said.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said by telephone Thursday that the development will help expand Sihanoukville and boost its position as a destination and travel hub in Cam­bodia. It will also allow larger aircraft to land, he said, adding that the improved ease of travel will encourage longer stays in the country.

“Tourists on cruise ships will extend their trips for a few days to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat,” he said. “Tourists in Siem Reap will fly to Sihanoukville for a few days at the beach.”

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