Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Forum seeks ways to cut tourists' costs

Forum seeks ways to cut tourists' costs

Forum seeks ways to cut tourists' costs

The government wants the cost of international package tours to Cambodia reduced.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked the Ministry of Tourism and private sector interests

to explore ways of pricing such tours at a lower level than neighboring countries.

Speaking at the seventh Government -Private Sector Forum on August 20, Hun Sen said:

"The package tour to Thailand is very cheap and includes airfare, food and accommodation

because the tour companies get commission from the restaurants and hotels."

Thong Khon, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism, agrees that it makes sense

to price Cambodia package tours cheaper or parallel to other countries in the region

to attract more tourists.

"The cost of transportation, accommodation and food determines whether the package

tour is cheap or expensive," said Khon.

Thai package tours are cheap because they had many direct flights and some hotels

offered discounted prices.

He said package tours in Cambodia had become a little cheaper since completion of

the national road 6 from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

Before this tourists had to pay $100 to fly to Siem Reap and back, but now it's just

$8 return by air-conditioned luxury bus.

Moeung Sonn, President of the National Association of Tourism Enterprises, said the

price of a package tour in Cambodia is about 40 percent more than in neighboring

countries.

"We want many tourists to stay longer - at least one week as in neighboring

countries," said Sonn "We are lacking public services and infrastructures."

Sonn said the number of tourists is increasing rapidly, but not as much as his association

would like. The passenger tax was higher than other countries in Asia.

He said most of the income from tourists goes to private foreign companies rather

than to the state budget or to local companies.

Thach Ouk, Operations Manager of First Cambodian Airline, said it is difficult to

make the cost of a package tour in Cambodia cheaper because gasoline and the air-control

navigation charge are both more expensive than other countries in the region.

Hun Sen encouraged the Ministry of Tourism to cooperate with the Ministry of Culture

and Fine Arts and private sector partners to create festivals and events to make

tourists stay longer.

He also proposed that the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and Ministry

of Foreign Affairs coordinate tourists and investors by opening honorary consulate

offices that can issue visas to them.

The first objective would be to create honorary consulate offices in some provinces

of China because it was a big tourist market and the source of potential investment

for Cambodia.

Pich Saran, Immigration Police Chief at Poipet, said between 500 and 1,000 foreign

tourists come through the Poipet border from Thailand every day.

According to the annual report of 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 570,000. By 2008 it may reach 1.3 million and by 2010, 1.9 million.

Revenue collected from tourism in Siem Reap was about $100 million in 2003 and is

forecast at $240 million in 2006 and $600 million in 2010. Most tourists were from

Japan, Korea and China.

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