PHNOM PENH, 24 August 2017: Sihanoukville authorities confirmed, this week, they will introduce a new tax on tourists claiming it will help to protect the environment.
News of the new environment tax surfaced earlier in the month. In its latest update to travel partners, Asian Trails, a leading tour operator in Cambodia, confirmed the tax would be levied on all tourists using boat transport for an overnight stay or a full-day excursion to off-shore islands.
Tourists will be charged a USD2 tax at the point of departure.
Resort development is speeding up at numerous islands near the coastal port town, a trend that worries conservation agencies. Tourists rarely complain about taxes that are designated for environmental projects, or defray the cost of beach clean-ups, but there should be transparency.
There is very little clarity on how these kind of taxes actually protect the environment, or what percentage of the tax goes directly to efforts to restore, or conserve nature.
The Cambodian government issued a short statement, saying the tax would be used to maintain the environment at tourism destinations off the Sihanoukville coast.
The fee will be collected from tourists who have booked overnight accommodation on one of the islands and those who have booked full-day excursions. Tourists on short sightseeing trips would be excluded.
The tax is due to come into effect 1 October.
Asian Trails Cambodia issued a notice to its trade partners alerting them to the new tax and the inevitable changes in transportation costs quotes to tour wholesalers.
Tour operators often complain that taxes and surcharges are introduced with little advance notice, which requires them to make changes to contracted rates for transport, or absorb the cost until a new contract is negotiated