All boat operators taking tourists to the islands off the coast of Sihanoukville will be obliged to sell tickets at $20 each as of January 1, according to a letter issued by the provincial governor’s office on Tuesday.
Three dollars of each $20 will be taken by the provincial authorities to pay for beach maintenance, the letter said.
“In the last few months, boat companies appear to have been operating irregularly in the sale of tickets and chasing tourists, which does not look good, has a negative impact on their business and produces anarchy,” reads the letter, which also calls for clear departure scheduling and promises to crack down on boats operating without a licence.
Acknowledging that the government had no legal authority to set prices, Deputy Provincial Governor Thay Bun Vannak said yesterday that the “request” was prompted by reports of price gouging, and that along with beach development, the $3 fee would go towards the construction of a port, which operators would be able to make use of. “Within the next two to three months we’ll announce how much we’ll spend and on what,” he said.
Souy Srey Mom, owner of the Island Speed Boat company, said yesterday that she, for one, will not be increasing her prices on January 1. “If we increase the price to $20, I am not sure there are many tourists that will come,” Mom said. “[Government officials] just do what they need to get revenue, like this $3, they don’t listen to our concerns.”