Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Backlash over island ferry fee in Sihanoukville

Backlash over island ferry fee in Sihanoukville

A tourist ferry leaves a pier in Sihanoukville earlier this year.
A tourist ferry leaves a pier in Sihanoukville earlier this year. Sahiba Chawdhary

Backlash over island ferry fee in Sihanoukville

Private sector tourism operators claimed yesterday that a new government mandate that charges travellers an additional $2 fee to use ferry services to reach the islands off the coast near Sihanoukville has sparked a furious backlash from domestic tourists.

The Sihanoukville Provincial Tourism Department began enforcing the $2 fee on all passengers destined primarily for the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, as well as private destinations, on August 10, according to department head Taing Socheat Kroesna. He said the revenue generated by the new fee would be used to help Sihanoukville and the islands clean up the environment and improve public facilities.

“The purpose of collecting the fee at the port is to develop public services, protect the environment and strengthen security while promoting the tourism industry,” he said, adding that the Finance Ministry announced the new fee in July, which should have given operators adequate time to resolve any issues.

However, Suy Sreymom, CEO of Island Speed Ferry Cambodia, which operates a ferry service to the coastal islands, said local tourists had voiced bitterness over the new fee.

“The fee is the worst thing for the government to implement and it will damage the island’s image for local tourists,” she said, adding that the government initially tried to get the private sector to impose the fee but tour operators rejected it.

She said Cambodians find the new fee objectionable as they regard the islands to be public land that should be freely accessible to all citizens. Many have drawn comparisons to the famed temples of Angkor Wat, which carry a steep entry cost for foreigners while Cambodian citizens can visit for free.

“Now local visitors argue with government officials that collect the fee at the port,” Sreymom said.

“This wouldn’t be a big issue if they only charged international tourists because they could earn enough to develop the area just from that,” she added.

Sreymom also questioned the legitimacy of the government imposing a fee on ferry services as the port and its ferry networks were built using private investments.

Sinan Thourn, chairman of the Cambodian chapter for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said that he does not support the additional $2 fee in Sihanoukville, which he considers inappropriate and unnecessary.

“The government already collects tax payments from businesses, and both local and international tourists will not be happy if we impose this fee on our own services,” he said. “The government should consider dropping the fee before it hurts the tourism industry.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does