Following the steady rise of tourism in Sihanoukville, property development in the coastal town is heavily targeting the nonstop influx of Chinese flocking to the area.
Although Sihanoukville has, in recent times, been synonymous with a growing number of Chinese tourists, currently it is going through an even more progressive overhaul to accommodate the rapid rise of visitors from the People’s Republic.
Taing Sochet Krisna, director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial tourism department, said when it came to the tourist and investment market in the area, the Chinese outnumbered other nationalities such as Russians and Americans.
“When we talk about tourists, the accommodation is important,” he said.
“A lot of hotels are being required when the Chinese come to Sihanoukville. As such, local people started to build these facilities to cater to the Chinese who come to visit, work and live.”
Nowadays, many hotels, guesthouses and homestays are being booked by the Chinese. According to a 2016 report from the Ministry of Tourism, the number of Chinese visitors to Sihanoukville increased from 39,581 people in 2015 to 53,177 people in 2016.
Sochet Krisna said the real estate market in the coastal province was heavily targeting the Chinese, but it comes at a cost to the locals.
“The tourists are fine with the high price of accommodation and rentals, but local people cannot afford to shell out as much as them,” he said.
Sochet Krisna added that the government was welcoming of property and infrastructure investment in Sihanoukville, although the investment had to be impeccably calculated to ensure supply was keeping pace with demand.
“When the number of tourists increase, activity in the property market inevitably increases,” he added.
According to Sihanoukville-based HNH Real Estate owner Seu Kuyhok, the real estate development in the area really began to boom when the Chinese started pouring in in 2014.
“Chinese investment in Sihanoukville is targeting the high-end real estate market, both for foreigners and locals,” he said.
“They come here to build condominiums, casinos, hotels and other real estate projects but the speedy investment is not stable,” he said.
Kuyhok said increasing Chinese investment in Sihanoukville was at times concerning because the investment was sometimes not clear or strategic.
“Local properties are now going up without reason and it will soon affect other investors who want to invest here for the long-term,” he said.
Overall, Kuyhok said condo living is not generally a goal for Cambodians because they aren’t accustomed to high-rise living. This, however, contrasts with the Chinese mindset who prefer living in a condo.
A resident who has lived in Sihanoukville since 2007 said he has noticed a wave of Chinese investors and tourists flocking to the coastal location in recent years.
“I have witnessed more and more investment traffic in the province over the last few years,” the resident said.
“More housing is being built, as well as casinos, hotels and condos. A lot of them are owned by the Chinese.”
“Also, some big projects and property developments near the coast are being built by Chinese companies that other foreigners can’t afford to buy,” the resident added.