Business People Wave Goodbye to O’Tres Beach

Many owners on O’Tres Beach have packed up their businesses and taken compensation from Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities to move away after a final eviction notice was issued last week, officials and businesspeople said yesterday.

Provincial authorities ordered the final eviction of businesspeople from a 1,500-meter stretch of the popular beach at a meeting on Wednesday. Owners of guesthouses, bars and restaurants agreed to take $4,000 in compensation, and vendors on empty land accepted $1,500.

By yesterday afternoon sixty percent of businesses had accepted financial contributions and left, provincial cabinet chief Sok Phan said.

“I request businesses to stop believing inciters and building small restaurants, bars and guesthouses on public land…. Our authority does not harm people, but the government wants to develop the area for tourists,” Mr Phan said.

O’Tres Management, a company owned by Lou Sokun, has signed a one-year contract with the government to build a public park on the soon-to-be-cleared stretch, Mr Phan said.

Ninety-five percent of businesses have already moved, said restaurant owner Aun Socheata, 26. Ms Socheata said that although she had received the compensation she still did not know where to relocate. “I will move from there because I do not have a choice,” she said.

Sar Kem, a restaurant owner, said he plans to rent a different section of O’Tres Beach for $200 per month. “The compensation is small and not enough to start another business,” he said.

Gos Stier, the owner of Golden Sunset resort, was yesterday packing up to return to Belgium and reconsider his future. Mr Stier said he was disappointed by the eviction, noting that foreigners who owned businesses on the beach had been excluded from negotiations on compensation.

“The story is over…. It was voted one of the best beaches in Asia, and the next day it was destroyed,” he said.

Rainer Deyhle, another owner, said that he was already developing a new resort on the more touristy Serendipity Beach.

“We were fairly compensated…. It could have been worse,” Mr Deyhle said.

(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)


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