The business community and especially the tourism sector in Cambodia are urging the government to abolish visa fees for foreign tourists in order to boost tourism. The Cambodian government, however, has no intention of heeding this advice. The revenues from visas that the country would lose as a result of this would be too high, according to the government.
Cambodia visa mandatory for European and North American travellers
Cambodia, like most countries in the world, has a visa requirement. This means that travellers in many cases need to have a valid Cambodia visa with them to be allowed entry. Cambodia has a special visa for tourists who want to stay in the country for less than 30 days. This e-visa can be applied for completely online, which means that there is no need to visit the embassy or consulate. To be eligible for the Cambodia electronic visa, the passport used to submit the application must be valid for at least 6 more months. The visa must be printed twice after it has been issued, so that it can be presented on arrival and departure.
Strict coronavirus rules
Cambodia, like many other popular holiday countries, suffers greatly from the coronavirus. Cambodia's economy has shrunk for the first time in years. The tourism sector has collapsed and the government is spending large amounts of money to keep businesses afloat. In 2019, Cambodia welcomed 6.6 million foreign travellers, by 2020 this number had dropped to 1.31 million; a dramatic decline of more than 80 per cent. Cambodia has introduced a number of strict measures to combat the coronavirus and some of these are specifically aimed at foreign travellers. Most foreigners are not allowed to enter Cambodia at all, and those who are allowed in must have a doctor's certificate confirming that they do not have coronavirus. On arrival, travellers must also go into mandatory quarantine.
The tourism industry complains that all these rules mean that the prospects for tourism in Cambodia in 2021 are still very bleak. They are therefore calling on the government to water down some of these measures, such as shortening the quarantine period.
Visa fees will not be abolished
One of the requests from tourism companies is to abolish the visa fees. Currently, the electronic visa for Cambodia costs € 59,95 per person. Travellers are allowed to stay in the country for 30 days. Businesses say this is too high a fee, and it deters people from travelling to Cambodia. The fee should either be reduced or temporarily abolished altogether. Once tourism has returned to its previous level, the visa fee could be reintroduced.
The Cambodian government, however, refuses to consider the notion. Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 1 February that Cambodia would continue to charge a fee for visa applications. Hun Sen stressed that Cambodia is certainly not the only country to have visa fees during the coronavirus crisis, with countries such as France even charging $100 for a visa. People still travel to France, so why not Cambodia, Hun Sen said. In 2019, Cambodia received about $180 million in visa fees. The Prime Minister is willing to look at possible alternatives, but until there are any, the visa fees will not be abolished.