The Cambodian Hotel Association called on the government Monday to delay until January 2007 the implementation of a 2-percent accommodation tax due to take effect on Sept 1.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon signed on July 14 a subdecree authorizing the tax, according to a copy of the document.
“We, in the hotel business, have already signed some 1-year contracts with clients; how can we tell them to pay 2 percent extra in accommodation taxes?” said James Kheng Sok, office manager for the hotel association. “Tour operators or hotel customers will be disappointed,” he said.
On Aug 5, Chris Ho, president of the hotel association, wrote to Keat Chhon, asking for a delay on behalf of the association’s 105 hotel members.
“Changing these rates immediately will cause cancellation of bookings and mistrust between our member hotels and our agents, thus this action is counterproductive to trying to bring more tourists and visitors to Cambodia,” he wrote.
Labeling increasing costs a “crisis,” Chris Ho wrote that Cambodia is already considered one of the most expensive tourist destinations in Asean.
Om Pharin, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said he plans to ask for a delay in the implementation of the tax. “We, in the private sector, are always lowering our profit margins to attract tourists, but the government continues to add taxes that drive out tourists,” he said.
Moeung Sonn, managing director for Eurasie Travel, said the new tax might affect job creation if hotels reduce staff payments to absorb the cost.
Chea Peng Chheang, secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, defended the increase saying that accommodation taxes are very common in France, the US and even Vietnam.
Bankosal Ming, deputy director of the Financial Industry Department at the finance ministry, said the new tax is needed.
“[Tourists] come to our country, they use our locations, public parks and electricity for free, so we charge a small percentage for that use,” he said.