Friday, 25 June 2010 15:01 Soeun Say
CONSTRUCTION has begun on the first casino to be built on the Vietnamese border in Ratanakkiri province, a project representative said Thursday.
Located 800 metres from the border, the as-yet unnamed US$3.5 million casino will aim at attracting Vietnamese and Chinese clients when doors open in a year and a half, a representative from owners Try Pheap Import Export Company said after breaking ground at the site early this week.
“This is the first development project and first casino at the O’yadao international border in Ratanakkiri,” Try Pheap company representative Bee Chivoan Dara said Thursday.
The project is slated to eventually include a residential development, a business centre, warehouses, a market, a bus station, and a garden, he said.
Officials hope the project could help Ratanakkiri make the most of a large influx of tourists coming to the province following the March 17 opening of National Road 78, which connects Ratanakkiri’s capital Banlung to the O’yadao border crossing with Vietnam.
“The road is good, and tourists are beginning to use it,” said Ratanakkiri’s Department of Tourism director Nget Pitou Thursday.
“The province has changed a lot in the last two years. We had only two hotels and five guesthouses in 2009, but now we have seven hotels and 21 guesthouses. There are many homes being built, along with roads, markets, and even more development projects are under construction.”
Future tourist arrivals to the O’yadao border area would be spurred by casino projects, said Nget Pitou.
“Building casinos in the area will help Ratanakkiri enjoy the same success as Bavet border crossing with Vietnam in the future.”
Some 42,000 tourists, including 10,000 foreigners, have visited Ratanakkiri in the year to date, he said, adding it was a 19 percent increase over the same period last year.
O’yadao border checkpoint police chief Long Rockha claimed the number of visitors traversing the crossing daily had significant increased with the opening of the new road, albeit from a very low base.
Investing in further tourist draws, like the casino, would boost the number of holidaymakers travelling to the region, he said.
“We hope it can attract more tourists every day,” he stated.