Hotels Defend Room Rate Hikes During Khmer New Year

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Hotels such as Sihanoukville’s Golden Sand Hotel (pictured) claim that it is standard practice to raise their room rates to an “acceptable price” during extended holidays such as Khmer New Year. WWW.GOLDENSANDHOTEL.COM.KH

With the Khmer New Year holiday approaching this weekend,  thousands of people flocking to resorts face seasonal price rises but some places are sticking to normal prices. Hotels said they decided to hike prices to take advantage of the high season business opportunity, though the Ministry of Tourism and local authorities had asked them not to increase Khmer New Year prices.

Seang Sochetra, front office manager at Golden Sand Hotel in Preah Sihanoukville province, said that about $20 had been added to daily rates for the Khmer New Year, even though the hotel received the call not to increase prices.

“Most hotels, guesthouses and tourism service providers here increase their prices during the high season when a lot of tourists visit,” said Sochetra. During extended holidays, accommodation prices at hotels and guesthouses are always pushed up to an acceptable price, he noted.

The eponymous owner of Sor Diny Guesthouse in Preah Sihanoukville province echoed Sochetra’s remarks. “I decided to increase the price to stay in my guesthouse from $15 for a one-bed room and $20 for a two-bed room up to $25 and $30 per night on special holidays such as Khmer New Year,” said Diny. “But our increased price is acceptable to the guesthouse and customers.”

He said that normally only two people were allowed to stay in a room but at Khmer New Year customers always want to stay  with up to seven or eight  family members, so the price had to rise.

“Authorities have called on us not to increase prices during Khmer New Year but in the free market we can increase our products to a price which customers accept,” said Diny. “I think it is not against the order of the Tourism Ministry.”

Preah Sihanoukville provincial tourism director Taing Sochetkrisna said provincial officials and local authorities had advised people in the tourism sector, including hotel, guesthouse, restaurant and tourism service providers to set out clear prices to tourists.

“We advise them to charge for services according to the price set out. If we get complaints about overcharging, those involved will face legal action,” he said, adding that in the free market, tourism service providers can put up prices but not to an unacceptable level.

“According to a survey, some still keep the same price compared with normal days and some put them up,” said Sochetkrisna. “For those who increase prices, they put them up by only 20 percent over the normal price because some customers asked for four or five people to stay in a room, so the cost of water and electricity will increase.”

In Siem Reap province, a staff member at the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa who requested anonymity said the price at the hotel had not changed for the Khmer New Year. “We always do promotions and the price is kept unchanged on normal days and special holidays,” she said.

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, said that increasing prices at resorts disappoints tourists, who don’t want to return, which creates a problem for the resorts. Operators should increase the quality of their products to make it attractive for tourists to return, suggested Vandy.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.