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No fines for tourism sector

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International tourists at a restaurant in Siem Reap before the Covid-19 pandemic. Hong Menea

No fines for tourism sector

The Ministry of Tourism has decided to waive fines for tourist businesses that have been late in applying or have yet to apply for licences until the end of this year.

This came after 30 per cent of tourist businesses nationwide filed for closure or suspension of their operations.

In a notice, the ministry said because the Covid-19 crisis has yet to subside and in order to ease pressure on the tourist sector, all related businesses in the country that have to renew or apply for tourist licences would be temporarily spared the fine of two million riel ($500).

“Tourist businesses must apply for or renew licences at the tourism ministry or sub-national administration by the end of the year,” the notice said.

Chhun Makara, director of the the ministry’s travel agency, transport and tourism guide department, told The Post on March 23 the deferral of the fine was intended to keep tourist businesses afloat as some had suspended operations.

“The waiver of fines for applying for a tourist licence focuses on accommodation, food services, travel agencies, tourist resorts, sports tourism and tour guides,” he said.

Makara confirmed that the ministry had currently received applications from 30 per cent of tourist business owners to close or suspend operations. The number, he said, could be higher amid the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on March 23 that the prolonged Covid-19 crisis had devastated the tourism industry, warranting government support.

“This assistance helps businesses to reduce spending because they aren’t generating income as they did previously,” she said.

From January to March, 2020, Cambodia had received 1.16 million international tourists, a decrease of 38 per cent over the same period in 2019. In the second quarter of 2020, the number of tourists had dropped by 90 per cent, according to figures from the ministry.

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