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Tourism licences to go online

Foreign travellers and expats overlook the sunset on the river at the FCC
Foreign travellers and expats overlook the sunset on the Tonle Sap river at the FCC last year. POST STAFF

Tourism licences to go online

The Ministry of Tourism launched a new online system yesterday to register tourism-related businesses and tour guides who need a licence, in order to ease the licence inspection process and boost government revenues, said a senior ministry official.

Neb Samouth, director general at the Ministry of Tourism, said the online system is part of governmental reforms to simplify the licence-registration process, which has to be done every year, and aid with the inspection of unlicensed businesses.

“The goal is to reduce the unnecessary barriers for the private sector as part of government reforms,” said Samouth.

The new system, which will replace the traditional registration process by 2016, will help the government increase tax collection as each business will now be issued an ID and Quick Response Code, making tracking the companies easier.

“For the private sector, the system will save their time. For the public sector, the system will create a database for us by creating ID and QR Code for each business and tour guide and therefore we could better manage the inspection of unlicensed businesses and tour guides,” Samouth said.

He added that, with the new system, the government plans to get the close to 30 per cent of unlicensed businesses to register by 2016.

In the traditional system, businesses would have to submit a list of documents at the ministry’s provincial tourism departments, after which, the documents would be sent to the ministry in Phnom Penh and sent back with the approved licence, making it a long and cumbersome process.

Now, however, businesses and tour guides can visit www.cambodiatourismindustry.org and www.touristguide.com respectively to send in their online applications. Licences will be issued three days after submission and the system will notify businesses a month before their licence is up for yearly renewal.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said he welcomed the online system and that it would help reduce the amount of time needed to register for a license.

“The online system is more flexible and it saves us time and money. For people in the provinces, it will be so much easier for them,” he said.

The online system will help reduce unfair competition among registered and unregistered businesses, encouraging the latter to register themselves, said Thoun Sinan, managing director of travel company B2B Cambodia.

“It is unfair when businesses with a licence pay proper tax and then fail to compete in term of pricing with the unlicensed ones as they are not obligated with tax,” Sinan said.

“The database from the system will show who are with licences and who are not. So customers will be able to decide,” he added.

Last year, Cambodia received a total of 4.5 million tourists, generating around $3 billion in revenue and creating more than 620,000 jobs. As of 2014, the Kingdom had close to 940 hotels, 1,571 guest houses, 1,399 restaurants, 864 tour operators, 335 tourism resorts and more than 5,000 tour guides.

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