Authorities in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district plan to eventually close down all guesthouses in the district along National Road 6, District Governor Klaing Huot said on Friday, adding that since the mandate was issued earlier this month, four guesthouses have already been shuttered.
“They are places where sex services happen. They don’t serve tourists or families,” he said. “It seriously affects society.”
The lax check-in policy of some guesthouses in the area, which sometimes don’t even require guests to show identification, has given the establishments unsavory reputations, Mr Huot said.
Mr Huot said he asked the Phnom Penh municipal tourism department not to renew the licenses of the 50 district guesthouses along National Road 6 after they expire.
“When the licenses expire we will close them, but we will allow them to become a restaurant or another legal establishment,” he said.
Mr Huot added that hotels would be allowed to stay open, because they generally boast amenities such as restaurants and gyms which make them “not as secretive.”
Barn Sothorn, manager of the Mohaleap Guesthouse, which is located in the affected district, said he only found out about the mandate by reading about it in a local newspaper.
“I was surprised when I saw it,” he said. “When the guesthouse closes it will affect a lot of people who will lose their jobs and have to go home.”
The guesthouse has been open for four years, but the current license will end in three or four months, Mr Sothorn said adding that he doesn’t know what the owners will do afterwards.
Mr Seng, a manager of the Heng Mahasal guesthouse, who did not want to give his full name, said that he also found out about the mandate from local media, not authorities.
“If we close that will end our business, but we don’t know what we can do,” he said. “We have to follow the law.”