Gov’t Puts Pressure on Hotels Where Boys Recently Drowned

The Tourism Ministry has downgraded the one-year operating licenses of two hotels where children recently drowned in swimming pools in an effort to make them compensate the victims’ families and carry out safety upgrades.

According to two statements signed by Tourism Ministry Secretary of State Tith Chantha on Saturday, the Rock Royal Hotel & Resort in Kep province and the Hotel Gold Cambodia in Preah Sihanouk province have had their one-year licenses downgraded to three-month licenses.

During the next three months, the hotels are expected to compensate the families of those who drowned and add safety measures to their pool areas, including signs telling guests how deep the water is, first-aid kits, life jackets and lifeguards.

A 4-year-old drowned at the Hotel Gold on April 20. A 6-year-old and a 17-year-old drowned at the Rock Royal on April 15 in the span of two hours. According to authorities, at least two other people have also drowned at the Rock Royal in the past two years.

Tourism Ministry Secretary of State Sieng Kimhan said he suspected that the Rock Royal had escaped punishment for the previous drownings because the owners had powerful connections.

“We did this because we want them to reform,” he said. “They shouldn’t think that when there is someone behind them they can do something inappropriate.”

According to police, employees of the Rock Royal said that the 17-year-old who drowned there had been inebriated.

However, the boy’s uncle, Yang Saing Koma, rejected the claim.

“[I]t is not true because he never drank alcohol,” he said, adding that the teenager’s parents were preparing to file a complaint against the hotel with the Kampot Provincial Court.

Representatives of the hotel could not be reached.

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