Ko Samet Island tourism, business operators affected by exodus of Cambodian workers

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RAYONG, June 18 — The exodus of Cambodian workers has deeply affected business on Ko Samet Island, a renowned tourist destination in Thailand’s eastern resort province of Rayong, according to the provincial chamber of commerce.

Anuchida Chinsiraprapha, chair of the Rayong Chamber of Commerce, said that despite attempts of Thai authorities to allay concerns of foreign workers, most of them remained worried and their departures obviously impacted small- and medium-sized enterprises.

She said that all 500 Cambodian workers on Ko Samet had already left local shops, restaurants and hotels and consequently there was little labour remaining on duty in the service sector on the tourist island.

Ms Anuchida also said that the labour shortage was also severe in the agricultural sector as there was no labour to harvest fruit– mangosteen and rambutan in orchards, pineapple fields and to tap latex in rubber plantations.

She warned that the problem would expand to fisheries and the para wood (natural rubber tree) industries.

However, some Cambodian workers are returning to Pong Nam Ron and Soi Dao districts in adjacent Chanthaburi as they need wages to support their families.

Some Cambodians told their Thai employers that they would be back after preparing their documents to seek legal immigration into Thailand.

The Thai-Cambodian Border Trade & Tourism Association of Chanthaburi predicts that more Cambodian workers will return to Thailand wihin a few weeks because wages in Thailand are at least three times higher than those in Cambodia.