Tourism industry insiders consider the “Tax Incentives for Tourism Enterprises” prakas as an important government effort to help business owners in major tourism areas revive and expand their investments, thereby rejuvenating the sector.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s prakas No 119, authorised by minister Aun Pornmoniroth on February 8, targets registered enterprises such as hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies operating in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Kampot. 

The benefits include monthly tax exclusions and exemption from 2023 annual income tax, as well as considerations regarding tax liabilities and audits, although the benefits vary between the targeted locations.

Thuon Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter, told The Post on February 20 that the government’s special attention to tourism business owners is commendable. 

He said the relief is particularly welcome, as the sector generally experiences a considerable decline in international visitors from May to early October each year.

“From May onwards, tourism in Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces is likely to be more adversely affected than at present, with Phnom Penh possibly experiencing the least impact,” he stated.

“Nevertheless, I am confident that the government will persist in providing assistance and I am grateful for their understanding and ongoing support,” he added.

Anheng Sokpheak, president of the Cambodia Chinese Tour Guide Association (CCTGA), regarded this as positive news, highlighting the government’s encouragement of tax relief. 

He believes this will help rejuvenate the industry and motivate the private sector to enhance its services, making them more standardised and competitive.

“I think the government should continue to encourage tourism to create greater opportunities for its development,” he said.

Khieu Thy, president of the Khmer Angkor Tourist Guide Association (KATGA), said the exemptions are a constructive approach to sustain the sector, adopted by the government since the onset of Covid-19. 

He noted, however, that past government assistance primarily helped enterprises, with tour guides receiving less benefits. 

Thy mentioned that despite appeals for lower fees during the pandemic, full charges for tour guide licence renewals have been implemented since 2023.

“The government does not impose taxes on tour operators, hotels and guesthouses, which are very lucrative, but tour guides, who live from hand to mouth, continue to pay tax as normal. We requested a reduction in the cost of … licences but did not receive approval,” he explained.

Data from the Ministry of Tourism indicates that in 2023, Cambodia welcomed 5.45 million foreign visitors, a 139.5% increase from 2022. Foreign tourism revenue amounted to about $3.04 billion, up by 115%. 

Domestic trips within the Kingdom reached 18,743,373, marking a 34.5% increase from 2022, as per the ministry.