20 Jul 2015
PHNOM PENH Cambodia’s tourism industry wants to be more competitive claiming the easiest way is to offer visa exemptions for top visiting countries.
The subject has now become urgent after Vietnam decided to grant visa exemptions to visitors from the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain starting 1 July to boost its flagging tourism sector.
Earlier in June, the Indonesian government formalised a visa-free travel regulation for citizens from 45 countries, to enhance tourism and improve diplomatic ties, the report said.
Khmer Times quoted Private sector-government working group on tourism chairman, Ho Vandy, saying: “This is a very big issue. If you want to progress [tourism], visa exemption is very important.”
inside no 10Some suggestions may include offering visa discounts and creating a single-visa programme for the ASEAN region, he said.
The chairman said the online e-Visa programme, launched two years ago is “inconvenient” and does not function properly.
However, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president, Ang Kim Eang, said not everyone liked the idea of visa exemptions and cautioned that more studies needed to be done. There are fears that national security could be compromised if entry is made easier, or the need to complete paperwork is done away with.
Last year, the country welcomed 4,502,775 international travellers improving 7.0% from 4,210,165 visits in 2013, according to Ministry of Tourism’s Statistics and Tourist Information Department data. The top 10 source markets were Vietnam, China, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, France, the United States, and Australia.