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Guesthouses rebut calls for fair prices

Guesthouses rebut calls for fair prices

Hotel and guesthouse operators have pushed back against government calls to avoid price increases during holidays, claiming group booking, as well as supply and demand, dictated the price of accommodation.

Government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, have recently tried to dissuade operators from raising the cost of rooms over such holidays as the King’s Birthday and Khmer New Year.

The Premier said unfair jumps in price hurt the industry as a whole.

Kim Chantha, the owner of a 20-room guesthouse in Sihanoukville, said price increases to the end customer were beyond her control.

Group tour operators often booked the entire guesthouse and charged customers prices higher than the normal rate, she said.

The mark-up on a room was often US$10 on top of the original $15, as they will be on the King’s Birthday weekend, which begins on Sunday and lasts three days, Kim Chantha said. She said she refused to double the price.

“Price increases don’t happen all the time, just during the holidays,” she said.

At a Ministry of Tourism meeting yesterday, Secretary of State Ros Ren said operators lied to customers during Khmer New Year about how many rooms were available in the hope of making more money.

He called on provincial authorities to crack down on unfair prices, which he claimed could ruin trips for travellers.

“It’s a festival, and we have that festival only one time [a year],” Ros Ren said.

Price increases at hotels had been limited, Cambodian Resort Hotel sales and marketing manager You Sokkeng said yesterday, adding that any climb in price was “related to marketing theory”.

“When there is more demand, price will increase.”

Preah Sihanouk province deputy governor Phai Phan said controlling private sector prices was difficult.

He also agreed that some increases were unavoidable in his province.

“Sihanouk province is different from the other provinces because it needs to import almost all meats and vegetables,” Phai Phan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]