Guesthouse and hotel operators have rebutted government calls to avoid price hikes during holiday seasons, claiming that group booking and supply and demand dictated the cost of accommodation.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials have recently attempted to discourage operators from increasing the cost of rooms during holidays like Khmer New Year and the King’s Birthday, with the Premier saying unfair price hikes hurt the tourism industry as a whole.
According to Kim Chantha, who owns a 20-room guesthouse in Sihanoukville, price hikes were beyond her control. She said group tour operators frequently booked the entire guesthouse and imposed rates higher than the usual rate.
Kim Chantha said the mark-up on a room often stood at US$10 on top of the original US$15 as they will be on the King’s Birthday, which runs from Sunday until Tuesday, adding that she declined to double to rate.
“Price increases don’t happen all the time, just during the holidays,” she said.
State Secretary Ros Ren told a recent Tourism Ministry meeting that operators lied to guests during Khmer New Year on how many rooms were vacant hoping to make more money. He asked provincial authorities to take tough action on unreasonable prices, which he claimed could spoil trips for travellers.
“It’s a festival, and we have that festival only one time [a year],” he said.
Price hikes at hotels had been limited, said You Sokkeng, sales and marketing manager at Cambodian Resort Hotel, adding that any increase in rate had to do with marketing theory.
“When there is more demand, price will increase,” he said.
Sihanoukville province deputy governor Phai Phan admitted that it was difficult to control prices in the private sector. He also concurred that some price hikes were inevitable in the province.
“Sihanouk province is different from the other provinces because it needs to import almost all meats and vegetables,” he said.