Eco-Tourism Boom In Koh Kong Bringing Big Changes To Cambodia

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One disheartening aspect of travel is the uncertain fate of many of the places we visit. The growing trend of privatization and destruction of national parks, tribal land, and rainforests is such a sad reality that I can’t help but wonder: “When will we get that this is all we have?” Soon there will be nothing left to exploit. Most travelers are always on the lookout for the next “undiscovered” spot, that slice of raw earth that may just return our sanity and clarity. Yet how often do we consider being proactive in the preservation of those very places that have brought worth to our lives?

Sometimes I think about standing next to the Naked Cowboy in the middle of Time Square (fully clothed that is — I’ll let him draw the attention) with a sign inscribed with all kinds of crazy political statements about saving the environment. But, luckily, I am struck with clarity, thanks to the recent trip I took, and I realize even the Naked Cowboy can’t solve our problems.

A recent article in The New York Times on Koh Kong’s emergence as an eco-tourism destination in Cambodia, aroused the enraged hippie in me on news of the construction of a “$5 billion, 25-year Chinese-financed tourism project that includes an airport, a sea port, a golf course and a large commercial development along a stretch of Koh Kong’s southern coast.”

This coupled with government plans to sell parcels of national parks to private developers, the proposal of several Chinese-built dams along Koh Kong’s rivers, and a recent government approval to build a titanium mine nearby Chi Phat — which could result in the possible loss of 11,000 acres of rain forest — is pretty horrifying.

The article begins with a magical description of Koh Kong, one of the few relatively untouched areas of Southeast Asia. And up until this point, efforts to breed eco-tourism along the dreamy island have been a success. Most accommodations blend with, and respect, Mother Nature’s needs, making Koh Kong seem like that ethereal slice of raw earth that we all crave.

Koh Kong is just one example of the many soon to be exploited natural wonders of the world. So I pose this question to you, my fellow travelers: “What can we do?” Many of us use social media, dabble in writing, and work in PR, so are we willing to use these influential tools to fight for a cause we are most passionate about? I’m certainly willing to, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

[Photo by Happytimeblog/Flickr]

By Maria Russo


About the Author

Maria Russo is a freelance writer who loves natural wonders, good eats, ethical travel, and boutique hotels. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, USA, and A Luxury Travel Blog, among others.

When Maria is not writing for her all-time favorite site (that would be The Expeditioner), she spends her time blogging about foreign jaunts and delectable food experiences for her site: Memoirs of a Travel & Food Addict. She is also up to no good on Twitter (@traveladdictgrl, @expedmaria).

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