Cambodia opens billion-dollar airport, eyes more tourists

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Reuters) – Cambodia on Thursday launched a new $1.1 billion airport in Siem Reap province near the popular tourist destination of the Angkor temple complex in a boost for plans to draw in more Chinese tourists.

“The management and equipment of this airport is sophisticated and prepared to accept more flights,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet told the opening ceremony.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia welcomed 6.6 million foreign tourists, with over a third from China.

He described the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport as “the fruit” of peace and an achievement of friendship between Cambodia and China.”

The airport complex sits on 1,730 acres (700 hectares) of land and construction, partially funded with loans from China, and cost $1.1 billion.

The airport is designed to serve as the main gateway to the Angkor temples, he said, referring to the ancient temple site, where parts of the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” film were shot. The airport will have an initial capacity of 7 million passengers annually, which can be increased to 12 million by 2040.

(Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng, Edited by William Maclean)