Cambodia pursues long-stay travellers

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Cambodia pursues long-stay travellersCambodia intends to make sweeping changes to its immigration regulations that will allow foreigners to stay for up to three years on a single visa in an effort to boost long-stay tourism.

Khmer Times quoted Tourism Minister Thong Khon saying the three-year multiple-entry visa is part of a government strategy to encourage foreigners to stay in the kingdom for extended periods.

It will target retirees and other long-stay travellers who have adequate means of support. The sector spends considerable revenue in a country and has been successfully pioneered by neighbouring Thailand.

However, recent efforts to tighten regulations and increase surveillance of foreign tourists in Thailand could provide an opportunity for its neighbours to attract long-stay tourists if they introduce user-friendly regulations for extended stays.

Cambodia’s multiple-entry visa will be available, 1 September, to foreigners from all countries, the minister said, with different fees according to the length of stay. Fee structures for the new visas were not announced.

The new entry visa will allow tourists and business people to enter and exit Cambodia as many times as they wish during the visa’s validity period, he said.

A dedicated retiree visa (ER-visa) as opposed to the ordinary E-visa, has also been mooted in recent months. However, very little information is available on proposed conditions, such as age, financial requirements and proof of retirement status.

There was talk of the ER-visa being introduced 1 August, but that deadline passed without an announcement. For most visitors planning an extended stay a multiple entry visa valid for three years would be superior to a one-year renewable retiree visa unless there were other incentives for the retiree.

The downside is that Cambodia requires travellers staying in the country for more than 182 days in a year to declare their overseas earnings that are taxable. This would apply to retirees unless a special dispensation was made.

Both Thailand and Malaysia are competing to attract retirees. Malaysia requires financial records showing they have USD37,000 in the bank, while Thailand requires USD22,000. However, Malaysia’s My Second Home programme allows retirees to buy a residential home and land, which is not allowed by Thailand.

A website specialising in offering tips on moving to Cambodia recommends that visitors planning to stay up to one year in the country should apply for an ordinary visa (E-visa) and then once in the country extend it with a six to 12 month multiple visa.  The three month extension allows for a single visit as opposed to multiple entries with the six to 12 month extensions.

See website Plan your move to Cambodia

The E-visa costs USD35 for 30 days.

Cambodia forecasts it can attract 7.5 million foreign tourists by 2020, which the ministry says will generate USD5 billion revenue annually and create 1 million jobs.

In 2015, the country attracted 4.77 million international travellers up 6.1% from 4.50 million visits in 2014.

Cambodia grants visa exemption to all member-nations of ASEAN for a stay of 14 days to a month and cooperates with Thailand to offer a two-country visa applied for at either a Thai or Cambodian embassy (first point of entry) for nationalities that still require visas for both countries.

Nationals of other countries can obtain a visa-on-arrival (USD30) or for a business visit (USD35), for a stay of 30 days.