VISITORS from Vietnam are taking increased advantage of visa-free entry to enter Cambodia, according to the chief of Bavet International Checkpoint Khun Bophan.
As many as 18 percent more Vietnamese visited the Kingdom between January and March this year than during the first quarter in 2010 – with Khmer New Year seeing a particularly strong number of arrivals, the checkpoint’s statistics show.
“It is showing good signs after we had the visa-exemption agreement. It is helping boost tourist crossings through the Bavet border checkpoint every month,” said Khun Bophan, Chief of Police at the Bavet International Checkpoint.
“I hope that tourist numbers will increase more and more over the rest of the year,” he said.
He noted that during Khmer New Year last week, as many as 1,000 Vietnamese tourists crossed the border, adding that he hopes that number will reach 10,000 for Vietnam’s Independence Day at the end of April.
“They like to visit Angkor Wat temple and Phnom Penh city,” he said of the Kingdom’s eastern neighbour.
The number of foreigners crossing through Bavet checkpoint in Svay Rieng province totalled 148,087 in the first three months of the year, up 18.4 percent from the same period last year, according to statistics provided by Khuy Kry, the Chief of Immigration at Bavet International Border Checkpoint.
Vietnam was the largest source of visitors, with 59,661 entering the Kingdom during the period, a 29.4 percent increase over 2010.
United States ranked second, and China was third in home countries for largest number of visitors between January and March.
While Cambodia has 10 official border crossings along its eastern border with Vietnam, Kong Sophearak, the director of the Department of Statistics and Information at the Ministry of Tourism, said Bavet is the one most commonly used by tourists entering Cambodia.
He said Bavet had great potential to connect international tourists to the Kingdom as a major entry point for foreign visitors.
“In Cambodia, we have two popular overland crossing, Poipet and Bavet. Both bring more tourists to Cambodia every year,” he said.
Total Vietnamese visitors to Cambodia increased by 47.5 percent last year compared to the year previous.
Some 466,695 Vietnamese entered Cambodia through all its ports of entry during 2010, from 316,202 in the year previous, according to previous Ministry of Toursim statistics.
Vietnam was the largest single source of tourists to Cambodia last year, the ministry’s statistics show.