Prime Minister Calls For Curb On Khmer New Year Price Hikes

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen puts water on a statue of Buddha during a Khmer New Year ceremony.

Prime Minister Hun Sen called yesterday for transport companies, tourism service providers and food sellers not to increase prices for Khmer New Year to keep business more sustainable and attractive for foreign travellers as well as for local tourists.

The call was made during the inauguration of Samdech Hun Sen Boulevard at the Cheung Ek satellite city in Phnom Penh. It came after the Tourism Ministry issued an order on Thursday to curb price rises during big festivities in a bid to promote local tourism.

“I would like to appeal to the owners of transport companies, please don’t increase fares by extreme amounts,” Hun Sen said. “If there is any increase it should be reasonable, as I have called for almost every year both at Pchum Ben and New Year.

“As the demand for transport keeps increasing dramatically, the price also keeps increasing. So, I call on owners of transport companies to think of passengers as being your relatives.”

Meanwhile more local tourists are visiting sites apart from Siem Reap and Angkor Wat temples. Hun Sen asked tourism providers and related sales businesses to keep prices at normal levels to make the sites more attractive and competitive.

“Nowadays, we see an increased number of new tourism sites creating a lot of jobs and new income, so safety has to be guaranteed and vendors have to be fair,” he said. “Don’t cheat tourists or they will not come to visit again.”

The Tourism Ministry order said tourism operators should manage and list their services based on regulations, free market principles and equity. It said tourism businesses must prepare price lists of the services they offer and the products they sell and display them in Khmer, English and a third language. “Tourism operators who do not comply will be punished,” added the order.

Taing Sochet Krisna, director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial tourism department, said businesses in his province normally increase prices by 30 to 70 percent during big festivals. He said he would start introducing the orders to all businesses in his province on Thursday.

“We will check directly all restaurants, hotels, venders, and guesthouses to see whether they implement the orders or not,” he added. “If they do not follow the orders, we will punish or suspend their business if there are problems.”

This story was originally published in the Khmer Times.