Gov’t Fixing Tourist Visa Web Site: Minister

Problems with Cambodia’s online tourist visa Web site are being solved, Hong Panharith, inspector general for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Monday.

The online service, which has been selling tourist visas since April 2006, serves up to 300 people a day during the high tourist season. But customers started to encounter problems June 26 when officials began to upgrade the Web site, Hong Panharith said.

Phnom Penh’s spotty Internet service meant that the visa processing service didn’t always work, so technicians are working on a better system, he said.

“The Internet connection in Cambodia is not so good at all, so when there would be problems here, the online e-visa system would go offline,” he said.

Changes to the site will also in­clude a security upgrade because many people use credit cards to purchase visas, Hong Panharith said.

Some people who bought visas using the old system are now having trouble accessing their information using the new system, Hong Panharith added.

While the problems should be solved within two weeks, Hong Panharith said that in the meantime, tourists can get help by contacting [email protected], adding that some refunds are being of­fered for those forced to buy two visas because of the upgrade.

Lisette Gabre, a Swedish aid worker who is based in Thailand, tried three times to buy visas for her family online. She needed seven, so she thought buying them online would expedite the border-crossing process.

“But we tried and tried and tried and could not get it to work,” she said Monday.

Canadian Jean-Francois Trem­blay, 29, bought Cam­bo­dian visas online about two weeks ago. But the night before he was scheduled to board a plane to Phnom Penh, Tremblay got an e-mail from the e-visa Web site that said the service was having problems.

“I was worried,” he said. “If it didn’t work, I could have just gotten a visa at the airport, but it was the money. I had already paid $50.” Ultimately, the visas he bought online worked. “I felt lucky. It was one less thing to worry about while we are traveling.”

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