“Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” has become a popular phrase bringing attention from both locals and foreigners.
t represents Cambodia’s most stunning cities and resorts, as well as providing quality service.
Pricing local products or services is an important factor in representing our country which can affect the number of tourists that visit Cambodia.
At certain sites, the price of goods and services can differ whether the customer is foreign or Cambodian.
As Cambodians, we can visit historical sites such as Angkor Wat for free. Other sites, such as resorts, may charge a little - but that is more of a contribution.
Unlike the locals, foreigners will find that they have to pay a fee to visit such sites, and this is how tourist income is made.
However, the gap between what foreigners are asked to pay and what the locals pay is huge, and it may have a damaging effect on tourism in the long term. For instance, some historical sites in Siem Reap charge 2000 riel for a local and about 80,000 riel for a foreigner.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon said that tourism is a priority for the government, which contributes towards the development of Cambodia’s economy and social welfare system.
Yan Viphearoth, 40, a research officer at the Department of Culture and Art at Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that almost 40 per cent of Cambodia’s economy is derived from tourism.
He suggested, as a way of increasing tourists to Cambodia, that the government focuses on guaranteeing the country’s security and fairly balancing the price of products.
She said it was wrong for local businesses to think that tourists visit Cambodia once and think that it’s acceptable to increase the price of products.
“After visiting once, those tourists will never come to our country again.
“If price is acceptable, they may recommend more people in their country to visit Cambodia,” Yan Viphearoth said.
Recently, we visited Siem Reap province and met a tourist from Korea. It was his first time in Cambodia and he knew little about the places to visit, and the price for transport.
He told us that he caught a taxi from the city to Phnom Kroum and the driver asked him to pay US$9. The Korean tourist repeatedly asked us whether the price was a normal rate.
We wondered why he kept asking us the same question, so we enquired. He told us that people he had spoken to in Korea warned him that Cambodians double or triple the price for foreigners.
“It was hard for me to decide whether it was a normal and acceptable price or not,” he said.
A souvenir seller at Russian Market, who asked to remain anonymous, said most of the prices in Cambodian markets are not fixed. Placing a price on a product depends on the customer’s attitude, whether they are foreign or local and how much the product cost to import.
“The customer always feels happy whenever they can haggle the price down to a fair bargain. We have to set the price high in order to let the customer negotiate,” he said.
Yan Viphearoth said that if foreigner prices are set too high for products and services, it will result in a decrease of tourists which will then impact Cambodia’s economy.
She also pointed out that if tourist numbers decrease, knowledge and awareness of the Khmer culture and traditions will not be known outside of Cambodia.
We think that all service and product suppliers should reconsider their prices for locals and foreigners. On top of that, creating more diverse forms of tourist activities gives visitors more ways to encounter Cambodia. We also think that the Ministry of Tourism should create tourist centres in each province that provide tourist information.
That way, tourists can feel more confident visiting, and spending their money.