Cambodia now offers visas at three more international checkpoints, immigration and border officials said.
The borders at Bavet, Svay Rieng province, and Kaom Samnor, Kandal province, officially began issuing entrance visas on Aug 1. The O’smach border in Oddar Meanchey province will begin issuing them Aug 18, a senior Ministry of Interior immigration police official said.
The new checkpoints bring to seven the number of points where travelers can be issued visas upon entry, adding to the checkpoints in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Poipet and Cham Yeam, in Koh Kong province. And they provide more ways for travelers to enter Cambodia, the police official said. He asked not to be named.
“I believe that hundreds of people will come through those checkpoints,” he said.
More than 115,000 people have entered by land or boat this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Of those, 18,000 came through O’smach, 5,000 through Cham Yeam and 13,000 through Bavet. The checkpoints have been criticized for being too porous, with immigration allowing people without visas to cross for a bribe.
Last month, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said immigration and border officials “cheated” money from tourists or overcharged them for quick service.
“Police at checkpoints have been providing visas illegally to many foreign tourists since 1998,” he said, adding that making the checkpoints official visa points would do nothing to curb the practice. “I think the country has lost money, not less than $10 million per year,” he said.
Son Chhay sent a letter to co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng with his concerns over the corrupt practices of border officials.
Sar Kheng and co-Minister of Interior You Hockry responded by saying it was impossible to issue illegal visas. “We use a sticker visa issued by the Ministry of Finance through the National Bank of Cambodia, and [we employ] the Ministry of Interior to balance the income base on the amount of the sticker visa,” they wrote.