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Unregistered hotels could face stiff penalties

HOTEL owners who continue to ignore the government’s sub-decree to register their businesses face penalties, including large fines or losing operating licences, an official said Thursday.

Only 33 hotels out of the Kingdom’s 450 have registered for a star rating, and another 28 have submitted documents seeking classification, according to Tourism Ministry statistics, despite a sub-decree being in place for nearly six years.

The Tourism Ministry issued a further directive earlier this year requiring hotel owners apply for classification when they apply to renew their annual operating licence. The ministry has threatened to take action if hotel owners ignore the directives.

“When the time comes, hotels that fail to be classified will be fined between 2 million to 20 million riel [US$475 to $4,750], or risk having their annual operating licence cancelled,” said Prak Chan Dara, director of the ministry’s Tourism Industry Department.

Prak Chan Dara said some hotels are not interested in the classification because they feel they can conduct their business without it.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the government had previously allowed hotels to submit for classification voluntarily, but that it is now pushing for all hotels to be classified in accordance with to a recognised standard.

“Through [the directive], we hope 50 percent of the hotels will be classified by the end of this year, and the rest will follow by the end of next year,” he said.

He said the classification is good for hotels because once obtained, hotels can better promote themselves and negotiate with international tour agents for their services.

“International tour agents only have contracts with hotels if they hold classifications – it lets the agents know the exact price of room types based on the number of stars.”

The classification ranges from a one-star to a five-star rating, in accordance with hotel standards set by regional ASEAN rules.

The classification fee varies depending on stars – five star establishments pay $300, four stars $250, three stars $200, two stars $150, one star $100, and $50 for local hotel, or no star hotel. The rating is recognised for two years.

Tuy Hor, the owner of the 40-room Royal Crown Hotel in Siem Reap province, said Thursday that he has not considered getting a classification.

“We do not see the importance for a small hotel to get the rating,” he said

“For now, we are just trying to improve our service to attract customers, as we’re just beginning to recover from the impact of the [financial] crisis.”

Sour Dara, the owner of The Kool Hotel in Siem Reap, said his hotel submitted an application for classification under the no-star rating two months ago but has not received a response. He said he felt that the process was a waste of time.

“My submission is just to comply with the law. In my opinion, the classification is useful only for big hotels to attract high-class tourists,” he said.
Luu Meng, president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, is trying to push members to become rated in order to meet customer demand.

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