Citing a need to protect Cambodia’s reputation, the newly formed Cambodia Hotel Association will not offer membership to hotels and guesthouses linked to human trafficking or prostitution, officials said Thursday.
The 18-member CHA was established Wednesday to replace the Phnom Penh Hotel Association and the Siem Reap Angkor Hotel and Guesthouse Association.
As an example of the kind of establishment that will be banned from membership, officials pointed to the scandal-plagued Chai Hour II Hotel in Phnom Penh.
“We don’t accept Chai Hour II Hotel,” said James Kheng Sok, an office manager with the Cambodia Hotel Association. “We only accept members that are not related to sex work.”
A December raid on the Chai Hour II that resulted in the rescue of 83 women and girls is at the center of the US government’s recent threats to impose sanctions on Cambodia for its unwillingness to crack down on trafficking.
The women were later returned to the hotel after a raid on a women’s shelter run by the NGO Afesip where they were being housed. No suspects have been arrested.
Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State Thong Khon, who attended the launch of the CHA on Wednesday, said the ministry will let the association decide on who it will accept as members.
“It is up to the association,” he said. “The association helps the government in promoting the country.”
Chai Hour II Hotel management could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Ly Korm, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation, said the CHA should allow hotels with links to prostitution into the organization so more reputable establishments can help them change their ways.
“If they let them be members, other good hotels can teach them to stop [promoting prostitution],” Ly Korm said.