After months of negotiations, the governments of Cambodia and the Maldives have reached an agreement on visa-free travel. In addition to this and other relaxations in the relaxations of travel rules between the two countries, the agreement will also ensure closer co-operation in other areas.
30-day visa-free stay
Cambodia has a relatively strict visa policy. Travellers from only eight countries can enter the country without a visa. These include only other Southeast Asian countries. Travellers from these countries are allowed to stay in Cambodia for a maximum of 30 days without a visa. For longer stays, a visa is also required. Travellers from other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, can apply for an e-visa online, but there are some strict requirements. For example, an e-visa, will only allow you to enter Cambodia through certain entry locations. The e-visa is valid for a stay of up to 30 days.
Travellers from the Maldives must also apply for a visa to travel to Cambodia, regardless of the length of their stay. However, this is set to change in the near future. Under the new agreement, travellers from the Maldives will soon be able to enter Cambodia without a visa for stays of up to 30 days.
Closer co-operation between Cambodia and the Maldives
The visa waiver for travellers from the Maldives is part of a large-scale cooperation agreement between Cambodia and the Maldives. The agreement covers several sectors, including trade, education and tourism. For instance, it will make it easier for residents of the Maldives to apply for scholarships to study in Cambodia and the Maldives will import more products from Cambodia, such as rice and fruit. The aim of the agreement is to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.
China has long been Cambodiaʼs largest trading partner. By 2022, China will account for 22% of Cambodiaʼs international trade. Despite this close cooperation, travellers with Chinese passports only need to apply for a visa to travel to Cambodia. Critics in Cambodia, however, say that the country is too dependent on China. The president of the National University of Cambodia, Yang Peou, argues that Cambodiaʼs new agreement with the Maldives shows that it values international relations not only with China but also with other countries.
Possible visa-free travel to other countries
The decision to strengthen ties with the Maldives is a sign that Cambodia wants to raise its international profile. The country relies heavily on tourism. The global COVID-19 outbreak caused Cambodiaʼs tourism sector to virtually collapse. Since reopening its borders to foreign visitors, the Cambodian government has been trying to encourage tourism to the country in a number of ways.
One such way is to allow visa-free travel for more nationalities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, voices in Cambodia were already calling for the abolition of visa costs for foreign tourists. In addition to this agreement with the Maldives, Cambodia hopes to sign similar agreements with other countries. Compared to other countries in the region, Cambodia has few visa agreements with countries outside of Southeast Asia. Vietnam, for example, has visa agreements with many EU member states. Travellers from these countries can stay in Vietnam for 15 days without a visa. Thailand also has visa exemptions for a number of countries outside Southeast Asia, such as South Korea and Argentina. The Cambodian government is reluctant to say whether there are any plans for visa agreements with other countries.