The Ministry of Tourism has created three inspection groups headed by three state
secretaries to investigate illegal checkpoints targeting tourists in several provinces
Nuth Nin Doeun is leading the inspection group in Battambang and Siem Reap. Ruos
Ren heads the inspection group investigating Kandal, Takeo, Kampot, Kep and Kampong
Speu. Sam Promonea is leading the inspection group investigating Phnom Penh International
Lay Prohas, Minister of Tourism, said the inspections are still being conducted.
Several inspections have been completed, but at press time the results of these inspections
Prohas said they would send him the report in the next few weeks. "We are working
hard on that issue. After completion I will pass it to the Prime Minister for approval,"
said Prohas. Eventually the results will be available to the public.
The inspections stem from complaints lodged by foreign tourists. Cambodia has seen
a drastic increase in tourism. Compared to the first six months of 2003 and 2004,
the amount of tourist arrivals in Cambodia has increased by 40 percent.
"We estimate that tourist arrivals will grow to 1.5 million in 2005," said
Nuth Nin Doeun, secretary of state at the Tourism Ministry and the chief of inspection
at Battambang and Siem Reap, said he had inspected sites at Phnom Krom and Chong
Khneas. Doeun said they did not find illegal checkpoints at these sites.
Nuth said the report would be completed next week. "I'm still working on that
issue, after I finish I will make it available to the minister," he said.
Moeung Sonn, President of the National Association of Tourism Enterprise, gave the
Post one example of tourists having to pay excessive prices.
"Many tourists who have visited the temples near Siem Reap wanted to take boat
tours along the Tonle Sap river to Chong Khneas, but a coalition committee which
controls the area overcharged them for their services," he explained. He expressed
fears that such encounters will damage the reputation of tourism in Cambodia.
"Many tourists have complained about the fees charged at resorts in our country
in comparison with fees in neighboring countries," Sonn said.
He said putting illegal checkpoints at resorts not only discourages tourism, but
it also makes the people around the resorts lose their daily income.
Sonn voiced concerns that the investigation by the Tourism Ministry will not be fair
if the inspection groups only negotiate with the officials at the resorts. Sonn suggested
it would be more effective to talk with the boat drivers and local people in the
area, especially at Chong Khneas.
Battambang province has experienced a problem involving police selling fake tickets
to tourists. In Prach, deputy chief of tourism in Battambang, said the 10 tourism
sites in the province did not place the police in charge of ticketing, but they often
sold phony tickets to foreign tourists for $2 each. "Tourism in Battambang has
also decreased due to the poor condition of the roads during the rainy season,"
On August 23, Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, sent a letter to the Minister
of Tourism asking for help in resolving the problem of police setting up illegal
checkpoints and selling fake tickets to tourists.
Checkpoints have been reported at the sites in and near Phnom Krom, Chong Khneas
at Siem Reap, Koh Dach in Kandal, Tonle Bati in Takeo, Amper Phnom in Kampong Speu,
Phnom Sampov in Battambang and Kep.
According to the annual report from the Ministry of Tourism, about 57 percent of
all international visitor arrivals came to Siem Reap in 2003. The actual number for
2004 is expected to be around 570,000. By 2008, it may reach 1.3 million and by 2010,
Revenue generated from tourism in Siem Reap was about $100 million in 2003 and is
forecasted at $240 million in 2006 and 600 million in 2010. Most tourists were from
Japan, Korea, China and the USA.