AT least five members of a new tour boat association that has come under fire from some boat operators have left the organisation during the past week, saying that rules governing bookings have hurt their businesses.
The association’s head told the five on Wednesday that captains will no longer be able to ply their trade in the waters near the capital if they decide to leave, one boat owner said.
The Association of Phnom Penh Water Tourist Transport was created late last year and began operating on January 18, with the stated aim of streamlining bookings and bringing order to the competitive tourist boat trade on the riverside.
However, some of its 31 members have expressed dissatisfaction with booking fees and the centralised booking system, which prevents boat owners from soliciting business themselves.
Boat owner Noh Ibrahim said he submitted his letter of resignation last Friday, adding that Ly Puthy, the head of the association, told him that he would no longer be able to conduct boat tours despite having a licence.
“I cannot make a living by waiting until it is my boat’s turn,” Noh Ibrahim said in explaining his decision to leave the group.
“I want to leave the association, but I am not allowed or my boat will be prevented from doing business.”
He added that at least four other boat owners had also decided to leave the group.
Ly Puthy said that the boat owners who had submitted letters of resignation were seeking “overwhelming freedom”.
“They want to compete violently for clients. It creates disorder,” he said, before declining to comment further.
Sam Chanren, deputy director of Phnom Penh’s Department of Tourism, said officials planned to step in and resolve the dispute. “City Hall is arranging a meeting to find a solution for boat owners,” he said.