Monday, March 9, 2009

Address at the Inauguration of the Restoration and Reconstruction Site of Road 23 from the intersection of National Road 3 to the Summit of Bokor Moun

Bokor Mountain Valley, Kampot, January 19, 2008

Your Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen,

Beloved Compatriots!

Today, it is my pleasure to join the Inauguration of Restoration and Reconstruction Site for the enlargement of Road 23 from the intersection of National Road 3 to the Summit of Bokor Mountain. This represents another new evidence reflecting the gradual achievements and progresses made in the field of physical infrastructure which connects and supports the development of tourism sector in Cambodia. During this auspicious occasion, I would like to congratulate Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, especially our people living in Kampot province and all over the country, for receiving another important achievement aims at promoting tourism sector as well as improving the livelihood of our people.

According to the report from Sokha Hotel Company, Bokor National Park Development Project will take 15 years to complete with a budget of about 1,000 millions US dollar. The project includes the building of road network on the mountain, sewage and drainage systems, constructing hotels and casinos, condominiums, villages, flat houses, amusement parks, restaurants, department stores, vegetable farms, hospitals, schools etc. It also includes the restoration and enlargement of Road 32 from the bottom to summit of the Bokor. This project will transform this area from a quiet tourism city into a dynamic developmental city surrounding by the great view of natural forest in Cambodia.

Moreover, this Bokor National Park Development Project will add another new product to what I have recently mentioned during the inauguration of Cement Factory of Kampot Cement Company on January 14, 2008 in Dangtong District that Kampot has three important products namely, salt, cement, and eletricity. Today, since we are here to join the inauguration of the restoration and reconstruction site of Road 32 starting from the intersection of National Road 3 to Bokor’s summit for the development of Bokor National Park we can say that Bokor has another important product that is the development of Bokor National Park for tourism.

This will not only set the new chapter, but it also help to improve the livelihood of people residing in Kampot province.

The success of the government’s “Win-Win” policy has created a golden opportunity for the development of all sectors, especially tourism. It is obvious that the achievement of peace, stability and security for our country and people is the most fundamental factor for the development of this sector. Moreover, by restoring our status on the international arena and integrating very rapidly into the regional and global communities we have provide the assurance that Cambodia can regain and improve investor and tourist confidence.

Cambodia has comparative advantages and potentials in many areas of tourism sector and tourism related services. These advantages link very closely to various historical heritages and the great views of sea, river, lake, mountain and forest. Geological condition of Cambodia is abundant of rare natural and cultural attractions. Based on these favorable conditions, the Royal Government of Cambodia has set the direction of tourism sector development as the “Cultural and Natural Tourism”. Indeed, these potentials are waiting for investment and sustainable development that will play a dynamic role for the take off of Cambodian economy.

Over the recent years, the number of tourists increases very significantly. Particularly, from January to November 2007, the total number of international tourists visiting Cambodia rose to 1,762,045, an increase of 18.63% compared to the same period in previous year. Out of this figure, the number of tourists visiting Siem Reap reached 997,951 which equivalent to 56.64% of the total figure; while the number of tourists visiting Phnom Penh and other areas increased to 764,094 or 43.36% of the total figure. This increase indicates that most tourists only visit Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, while very limited number of tourists visit the coastal areas such as Krong Kep, Kampot province, Sihanouk Ville, and Koh Kong province although these coastal areas have a great potential for tourism and can provide complementary tourism packages among one another.

Clearly, the restoration and broadening of Road 32 starting from the intersection of the National Road No. 3 to the summit of Bokor Mountain is the starting point of the implementation of all development projects on the summit and it also recreates the capacity and potential to attract national and international tourists to contribute to tourism development in Kampot province. Bokor National Park is a popular natural tourist resort amongst other mountain-based national parks such as Kulen and Kirirom National Parks. During the 1960s, Bokor National Park was a very popular tourist destination. The war has transformed this area into a military base with landmines and, later on, transformed it into a desert city. Now, Kampot province has been developed, and Bokor mountain is no longer deserted. Physical infrastructure such as bridges, roads, canals, hospitals, schools, and pagodas etc. have been developed in Kampot province and the tourist number increases every year. Having many tourist resorts such as Teuk Chou Resort, Ampil Canal in Kampong Trach and Bokor mountain, Kampot has a great potential for industry, trade and tourism by linking and exchanging trade with neighboring provinces in the country and provinces in neighboring countries. Presently, tourists can travel from Thailand and Vietnam through Koh Kong, Sihanouk Ville, Kampot and Kep.

In this sense, I believe that the development of Bokor National Park will attract more tourists to visit Kampot province, which will raise the people’s living standard in Kampot.

What should be noted is that tourism does bring about long-term economic growth, especially it contributes to economic development in rural communities by boosting government revenue, creating more jobs and investment opportunities. Bokor National Park tourism in the near future will create additional hundreds of jobs for Cambodian people, either directly or indirectly. There will be many jobs to be created and it is virtually impossible to calculate the exact number. For example, since the beginning of the construction and development of infrastructure in this area, some jobs have been created for our people such as construction workers, food vendors etc. When the construction is completed, people can work in the hotel, restaurant, taxi service, souvenir shop, and as tourist guides etc. Revenues earned in the Bokor National Park can be considered as people’s income for local spending on goods, services from other people in the community, and sellers and suppliers in the community will have additional income for spending on their children’s education, building new houses, buying furniture, TVs, and vehicles such as cars and motorbikes etc. Generally speaking, the development of the Bokor National Park will create a new opportunity and a new face for raising the people’s standard of living around this area.

Today, I have a great pleasure to be here in Kampot province for the second time in the beginning of 2008, after having participated in the inauguration ceremony of the Kampot Cement Company’s Cement Factory in Dorng Tung district, and today I join the people in Kampot province and Sokha Hotel Company to receive a good road for boosting the tourism sector in Kampot province. Taking this opportunity, I highly value and appreciate all compatriots and Sokha Hotel Company that contribute to the investment and development of Bokor National Park to transform it into a luxurious tourism city in Cambodia.

In the opening of this construction site, I would like to request the director of the company to pay attention and make all necessary efforts to deliver a good quality road for long-term use and to facilitate travels and transport. At the same time, I would like inform the people living in Kampot as well as those people in other provinces that, after the construction is finished, this road will be opened to the public free of charge. Furthermore, what makes all of us happy is that travelers will not have to spend many hours driving up or down the mountains anymore. Moreover, as this road will be broadened to accommodate two-way traffic, we will be able to travel anytime, without having to wait for morning or afternoon schedule to drive up or down as before.

Before ending, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to Sokha Hotel Company to give priority to local people in its recruitment process, both in the beginning of the project implementation and after the Bokor National Park has been developed as a tourism city, to contribute to the RGC’s effort in raising the people’s living standard and enable students to conduct their study tours and researches in tourism development. Moreover, I would also like to request Sokha Hotel Company and people in this area to be friendly to tourists and make active contribution in the conservation of the Bokor National Park.

Finally, I would like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and all compatriots the 5 Gems of Buddhist Blessing. May I now declare the opening of the construction site for restoring and broadening Road 32 from the intersection of National Road 3 to the summit of Bokor Mountain.

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