A beach in Sihanoukville
TRADE members in Cambodia are upbeat about upcoming plans to “beautify” the Sihanoukville coast despite controversy surrounding the development.
While the Coastal Management Masterplan is still pending approval, proposals include evicting vendors that sit within 50m of the beach and segregating beaches into distinct zones.
Approving the move, Mick Spencer, Sihanoukville Tourism Association board member and owner of ANA Travel & Tours, said: “This is a good opportunity for the government to make right mistakes made in the past.”
He explains that it is essential for factors such as waste, pollution and safety to be taken into account this time in order to attract more tourists in the long-term.
“The future for tourism rests very much on whether or not these issues are taken seriously,” he added. “Planning for sustainable, sympathetic development of the beaches is a key factor if Sihanoukville is to enjoy increased visitor numbers.”
In recent years, over-crowded O’Chheuteal Beach – where 96 vendors have already been evicted – has been dogged with litter, petty crime and illegal sellers. Nearby Otres Beach is likely to follow, but beachside restaurants and bars have been given a reprieve by authorities for now.
Samnang Sen, owner of guesthouse Otres Orchid, said: “There are many businesses that will close if they get evicted, but something needs to be done to clean up the area and make it more attractive for visitors.”
Hun Phalla, owner of restaurant O’Chheuteal Seafood, added: “Tourists want clean beaches and seas. We hope that is what we will get.”