Outdoor tables and chairs belonging to bars and restaurants on Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach were removed by local authorities on Tuesday as part of a campaign to beautify the city’s beaches by ridding them of illegal commercial activity, an official said on Wednesday.
Beginning at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, police and hired laborers spent three hours dismantling lounging areas—including tables, chairs and umbrellas—in front of eating and drinking establishments on the northern end of O’Chheuteal Beach, known as Serendipity, according to Sok Phan, deputy governor of Preah Sihanouk province.
“If we had not removed these things, the vendors would have set up more tables and chairs, and it would have looked even messier—and meant no space for visitors to walk on the beach,” Mr. Phan said on Wednesday.
“Due to the increasing number of tourists, we need the beach space so people can walk, relax or play football,” he said, explaining that removing the “clutter” from the beach was part of an ongoing campaign to beautify Sihanoukville’s beaches, the city’s main tourist draw.
In December 2014, authorities similarly instructed Serendipity proprietors to remove all furniture from the sand, saying the decree was meant to reduce the amount of loose trash and allow visitors to relax on the beach without being charged.
Mick Spencer, a Sihanoukville Tourism Association board member and owner of the local ANA Travel & Tours company, said he had not heard about the furniture-removal drive, but noted that it followed Saturday’s eviction of all 96 vendors and businesses on the Ariston section of O’Chheuteal beach, just to the south of Serendipity.
Mr. Spencer said the move to tidy up Serendipity was unlikely to be popular among bar and restaurant owners—or with tourists who like to suntan and sip beers on the chairs and loungers along the beach.
“Those who had many tables and chairs, they will feel somewhat resentful,” he said, adding that while a system of regulating beach furniture might improve the area’s aesthetics, its abrupt removal was not a proper solution.
“The full removal does not necessarily help, as there will be no shade or places of comfort for visitors.”