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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cyclo company puts new spin to old wheels

Cyclo company puts new spin to old wheels


Phnom Penh's humble cyclo, the workhorse of the city's public transport system, is

the key to a local businessman's plan to market organized cyclo tours as a road to

entrepreneurial success.

Hok Chan Thy puts his new cyclo through a road test.

San Marin, manager of the newly-founded Cyclo Tour Company (CTC), is set to launch

a new generation of specially re-fitted cyclos piloted by uniformed, English speaking

drivers to cater to the capital's widening tourist market.

"I hope that these cyclos can attract tourists to ride them," Marin told

the Post. "The key is that our cyclos are attractive and have fair prices guaranteed."

The traditional cyclo was introduced during the French Protectorate era and has seen

its market dominance steadily eroded by motorcycle taxis. Cyclos are increasingly

relegated to market goods conveyance duty and overpriced riverside bar-hopping.

To distinguish their cyclos from the mass of more downmarket competition, CTC has

invested in 10 specially-built cyclos complete with a sun roof for the drivers. Costing

$200 each to make, the CTC cyclos' distinctive red color matches that of the drivers'

crisp new uniforms.

According to Marin, CTC drivers are being selected on the basis of cyclo experience,

sensitivity to traffic rules and English language ability.

In return, CTC offers a flat salary of $40 a month plus accommodation, and bonuses

for high mileage.

For CTC cyclo driver recruit Hok Chan Thy, 25, who has been pedaling cyclos around

the city since he was 15 years old, initial reaction to test runs the company has

made around the city have been extremely positive.

"[Tourists] admire our cyclos," Chan Thy said of the public response to

date. "They say they are beautiful, and offer us tips."

Marin says CTC will officially hit the road in the coming weeks, stationing themselves

outside hotels and popular restaurants. Drivers will be instructed in how to assist

tourists find their way around the city and display tour rates, which start at $2

per hour.

Local tour agencies are already expressing interest in the potential of adding city

cyclo tours to tourist packages of the city.

"I'm happy that they are setting this up," said Tan Sotho, Director of

Hanuman Tourism in Phnom Penh. "We will advise tourists to use [CTC] cyclos

during the rainy season to visit the river front and other popular destinations."

If their Phnom Penh venture proves successful, CTC has plans to develop similar cyclo

tour operations in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.



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