In an effort to boost tourism, Cambodia and Thailand are planning to sign a single-visa agreement on Monday to make it easier for people wishing to visit both counties, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thursday.
The new visa is part of the Irrawaddy, Chao Phraya, Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, which is a 2003 cooperation agreement between Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
“A single visa means, if you are a foreign tourist, you will only have to get one visa, either a Cambodian or Thai visa, before you can visit the two countries,” Thong Khon said.
Huy Kanthol Vora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he was not aware of the details of the agreement, but Thailand’s Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram will arrive in Cambodia on Sunday in advance of a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong to sign the single-visa agreement.
Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents and co-chair of the government-private sector Tourism Working Group, said the terms of the agreement are not clear.
“We don’t know if the policy could benefit the private sector or not,” he said, adding that he was concerned by Thailand’s slow immigration process, as tourists often have to wait up to three hours to get through Thai immigration when entering Cambodia over land.
An official at the Thai Embassy said he was too busy to comment on the visa agreement.
Eurasie Travel Managing Director Moeung Sonn said the single visa agreement with Thailand would boost tourism, but he questioned which country would benefit the most.
The Ministry of Tourism estimated that two million tourists would visit Cambodia this year, which would bring in around $40 million in revenue from visa fees.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh.)