Sihanoukville tourism and property developments

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Nearby Sihanoukville is the focus of the early tourism development. Tourism should get a boost from the expanded airport, now able to cater to big jets – but airlines have yet to commit to the service.

The Royal Group, major Cambodian conglomerate, is in the process of trying to develop Koh Rong, the large island next to Song Saa. But it is still in the process of looking for hotel partners and companies to develop the 78sq km island, where it has a 99-year lease.

Royal Group chairman and CEO Kith Meng call that stretch of coastline the “missing link” in the development of Cambodia’s tourism sector.

The Russian-backed Koh Puos Investment Group is also developing a site, Morakot Island, just offshore, where it plans to build one million sq m of space in a vast mixed-use development. It’s intended to have a casino, marina, golf course – and plenty of resort property.

The company is building a bridge to the island that’s due for completion in June. It plans to start work on the island’s infrastructure and utilities, then begin building 36 seafront villas that will sell at prices ranging from US$900,000 to US$1.5 million, for three- to five-bedroom pads.

Only a handful of projects continued without disruption after the financial crisis, so the developer hopes it has an edge on competitors.

“There are not many projects of our scale in Cambodia in general,” sales and marketing director Marina Khrisanova says. “So we are one of the pioneers.”

1) The Government presently restricts the full ownership of land to Cambodian citizens.

2) Land is either owned privately or by the state but not all land is registered.

3) Investors seeking to purchase land must check that full title exists.

4) Foreigners can own land in Cambodia under a lease structure, which can be either short or long term, and a Landholding Company Structure. Short-term leases are common where occupiers intend to occupy premises for up to say 10 years, but long-term leases are more appropriate for ownership. A long-term lease can be secured for a minimum of 15 years and can last as long as 99 years or more.

5) Taxes and fees includes a 4% transaction fee, a service fee, paid to the cadastral office USD$800 – 1000 a tax payable according to the absolute size of the land and building and an unused land tax calculated by the cadastal officer.

6) The whole process of registering a property in Cambodia can take around 50-60 days to complete.

Stretching from Thailand in the west to Vietnam in the east, Cambodia’s southern coast is the best escape from the city. In the fifties and sixties, the country’s elite did just that, travelling to the magical town of Kep and building large country houses. Many of these were abandoned during the Poi Pot years and have since been reclaimed by the jungle, giving the place a mysterious feel. Kep is beginning to flex its tourism muscles again, and the locals and expats are travelling the four-hour road journey for peace ocean-side, the famous green pepper crab and nights at indulgent Knai Bang Chatt, a sixties mansion turned boutique hotel of 11 rooms, huge charm and nearby Sailing Club.

Kampot is another gym on this coast, with crumbling old French mandate architecture still holding up small guesthouses, restaurants and bars, while Sihanoukville, the “capital” of the south coast, boasts a great market and the best beaches in the area.

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