PHNOM PENH, 22 April 2015: Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism launches a new online system to complete the legal registration of tourism-related businesses and tour guides.
The online registration speeds up the process for companies and guides to secure a licence to operate legally in tourism.
Phnom Penh Post quoted tourism ministry general director, Neb Samouth, saying it was part of government reforms to simplify the licence-registration process, which must be completed annually by thousands of companies and guides.
“The goal is to reduce paperwork and barriers to enable the private sector to operate efficiently in tourism,” the ministry’s general director said.
He added that the government plans to get close to 30% of unlicensed businesses to register by 2016.
In the traditional system, businesses would have to submit a list of documents at the ministry’s provincial tourism departments, after which, the documents would be sent to the ministry in Phnom Penh and sent back with the approved licence, making it a long and cumbersome process.
Now businesses and tour guides can visit www.cambodiatourismindustry.org and www.touristguide.com to file their online applications. Licences will be issued in three days after submission and the system will notify businesses a month before their licence is up for renewal.
Cambodian Association of Travel Agents president, Ang Kim Eang, said the online system would to help reduce the amount of time needed to register.
“The online system is more flexible and it saves us time and money. For people in the provinces, it will be so much easier for them.”
It will also ensure that more travel companies are working in a legal framework and paying tax. Legitimate travel firms argue that complying with the law is a burden as they pay tax, while the non-registered companies avoid that expense and can undercut the prices of legal travel firms.
Last year, Cambodia welcomed 4.5 million tourists, who generated an estimated USD3 billion in revenue, while creating more than 620,000 jobs. As of 2014, the country had 940 hotels, 1,571 guest houses, 1,399 restaurants, 864 tour operators, 335 tourism resorts and more than 5,000 tour guides.