Locals Struggle to Adapt to Sihanoukville’s Chinese-Led Business Boom

SIHANOUKVILLE — Chorn Bork says the grilled-squid business isn’t what it used to be on Sihanoukville’s O’Chheuteal Beach.

The makeup of beachgoers has been changing, with fewer local tourists visiting the area following a couple years of frenzied, gambling-led Chinese tourist development, Bork says.

“It was fairly lucrative in the past, but it’s very low now,” she says. Her income from selling grilled squid on skewers has dropped from about 100,000 riel ($25) a day to 40,000 riel ($10).

The price of squid in the city is rising, she adds, because of early-morning competition to buy the seafood.

“If we get up late, the Chinese have taken it all,” according to Bork.

The beach town seems to have developed a mostly self-contained Chinese economy, she says: The squids go to Chinese restaurants, which cater to Chinese tourists, who mostly stick to Chinese businesses.

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