Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Chinese tourist gets a massage at a beach in Sihanoukville last year. Heng Chivoan

Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise.

Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment in the country, has seen huge leaps of growth in the manufacturing, tourism and gambling industries.

Its geography proves strategic as well for Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure push in Asia.

However, prices at hotels and restaurants seem to be rising, with some saying that Cambodians will soon not be able to afford it.

A hotel receptionist at Sihanoukville’s Golden Sand Hotel said room prices have risen slightly in the last year while the number of local visitors has fallen by more than 50 per cent. But he couldn’t say if the trend was due to price or other factors.

“I think the number of local tourists visiting Sihanoukville has fallen because they do not like the disorder caused by the Chinese. They don’t mind the price, but they walk out and say that the rooms are full of smoked cigarettes,” he said.

A report from the province’s tourism department obtained by The Post on Monday showed that in the first half of this year more than 1.3 million tourists stopped there. That number is up by more than 10 per cent from last year.

The report showed that more than one million of those visitors were domestic tourists, up 8.10 per cent year-on-year. Foreign tourists totalled almost 300,000, which was an increase of nearly 18 per cent from a year ago.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Chinese tourists led the group, making up 84,664 international tourists. Their numbers grew by 43.6 per cent over last year. Visitors from Vietnam, however, totalled just 20,000 and increased by only 3.3 per cent during the same period.

Driven to the outskirts

Additionally, the report showed that visitor numbers from Europe and America have fallen sharply.

Hang Reth, the manager of the Moonflower Bungalows, which is located on Sihanoukville’s Otres beach, claimed that few Chinese tourists came to his guesthouse. He said Westerners were still paying visits in order to get away from the crowds at the city’s centre.

He noted that there seemed to be more local visitors, however.

“I have received more local visitors unlike in the past. Domestic visitors come because they have difficulties finding a place to stay in the city centre."

“Because of the high cost of accommodations in the centre, local guests come to stay in guesthouses or hotels on the outskirts,” he said.

He blamed the city’s problems with waste collection, disorder and poor roads for the drop in Western and domestic visitors.

“I think the number of domestic tourists will continue to fall further in Sihanoukville,” he said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin said rising prices, higher room rates, and having to pay more for purchases and food were affecting local tourists.

She said some of them are turning to other destination in neighbouring provinces to take weekend or holiday trips.

“The decline in the number of local and Western tourists in Sihanoukville will continue if there is no intervention from relevant institutions,” she said, adding that she believes all relevant institutions will act so that Sihanoukville can continue to attract visitors.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Tith Chantha could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Sihanoukville governor Yun Min told The Post earlier this month that the number of local and Western tourists will continue to fall because of a shortage in accommodation.

“This, and the rising room rates are the main reasons local and Western tourist numbers dropped slightly in Sihanoukville centre,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180