Cambodia’s largest new China funded international airport opens in Siem Reap province

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China-backed Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is now the primary access point to the iconic Angkor Archaeological Complex. The first flight, operated by Bangkok Airways, touched down on Monday, marking the beginning of its service. This $1.1 billion airport, constructed as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is poised to accommodate 7 million passengers annually, surpassing its predecessor, Siem Reap International Airport.

Constructed under a ‘Build-Operate-Transfer’ model by Chinese enterprises and managed by the Yunnan Aviation Industry Investment Group, this ‘4E’ airport can handle larger commercial planes. Its design draws inspiration from traditional Cambodian architecture.

In addition to serving as a gateway to the Angkor complex, the airport plays a vital role in Cambodia’s tourism resurgence. The country has seen a 250.8% increase in international tourists during the first eight months of 2023 compared to the same period last year. While still below 2019 levels, Cambodia is set to welcome 4.5 to 5 million international tourists this year, with many visiting Siem Reap to explore the UNESCO-listed Angkor complex, a sprawling 400-square-kilometer site representing the Khmer Empire’s history.

(Source: Radio Free Asia | Karla Cripps | CNN)

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