Kien Giang’s provincial Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports director, Le Minh Hoang, said Vietnamese and Thai authorities had already agreed to open the sea route that connects with Cambodia. Kien Giang and Thailand’s Trat and Chanthaburi provinces discussed the project last week.

The route will be cover tourist sites — Ha Tien, Rach Gia and Phu Quoc in Vietnam, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Trat and Chanthaburi in Thailand.

The director said: “It will help tourists cut travelling time between the three nations. It will take visitors about two and a half hours to go to Sihanoukville by boat from Phu Quoc in Vietnam and two more hours to go to Trat.”

The sea times appeared remarkably short and would be determined by the kind of boats could be commissioned for the service which was not explained in statements.

The sea route when functioning should attract international visitors, particularly European travellers, the director said.

Vietnam will also benefit from the route as many foreign visitors travelling to Thailand and Cambodia would also like to visit Phu Quoc Island that lies off-shore of Kien Giang province, he said.

However, all the three countries lack suitable cruise ships to serve route. No time-frame was mentioned by officials suggesting this project has not been fully embraced by private sector shipping companies prepared to make an hefty investment in ships and service support.

“In Kien Giang, only the Duong Dong shipping company is qualified, so we will encourage more local companies to commission ships with a capacity of 250 to 300 tourists to serve the route,” he indicated.

Kien Giang province is located in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam, 250 km from the Ho Chi Minh City, and close to Kampot province in Cambodia on a shared border of 54 km.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - January 30, 2013