SIHANOUKVILLE, 31 August 2016: Sihanouk provincial authorities plan to recruit 30 lifeguards to help make the province’s seven beaches safer for swimmers.
Phnom Penh Post reported the move follow recent reports of tourists drowning.
The latest casualties involved a South Korean, a 40-year-old father and his four-year-old son, who drowned at Otres Beach one of the most popular beaches near Sihanoukville town, last Friday.
Authorities posted signs and made loudspeaker announcements along the beach, last Saturday, warning beachgoers of high winds. Beaches also fly flags to alert visitors to changing conditions. Red flags fly to warn swimmers to stay out the sea, while a yellow flag indicates the need for caution. Authorities say most swimmers should only enter the water if a green flag is flying.
However, many tourists ignore the flag warnings entirely. There have also been cases of visitors drinking heavily at beachside bars and then going for a swim.
In the first eight months of the year, 10 local and foreign tourists drowned, according to the provincial’s administration deputy director, Brak Visal.
“Two years ago, our province had 10 lifeguards, there are only five left,” he said.
Out of seven beaches only Ochheutal Beach has lifeguards and not on a daily basis.
The plan calls for the city to build watch towers for the lifeguards and a PA system that they can use to warn swimmers of any changes in weather.
Lifeguards are volunteers who also need to be strong swimmers, have adequate training in emergency treatments and first aid, while being competent in the use of rescue boats.
The Ministry of Tourism has recently instructed tourism departments in coastal provinces to initiate a campaign to ensure safety, public order and cleanliness at beach resorts.
One of the measures involves improving signs to identify risks at beaches where currents and rip tides are dangerous.
Sihanoukville is a province in the southwest of Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. It is one of the oldest tourist destinations on the coast and home to a busy commercial port and airport.
More than 1.5 million tourists visited Sihanoukville province, last year, up more than 14% over 2014. International visitors are no more than 500,000 and they are mainly visiting the town to gamble at its 17 casinos.