THE daily number of Thai nationals entering Cambodia by land has increased six-fold only five days after the bilateral visa exemption was introduced, according to officials.
Oung Oeun, governor of Banteay Meanchey Province which borders Thailand, told The Post that statistics showed up to 300 Thai nationals were crossing into Cambodia per day since the new visa-free rule was brought into effect last Thursday.
“Since the visa-free exemption was effected, the data we collected shows Thai tourists coming to our side is increasing everyday to between 200 to 300 tourists a day, whereas before we had only 30 to 50 tourists a day,” he said.
In another development, two border checkpoints between Cambodia and Thailand will increase their hours of opening to cater for and encourage the border crossings, he said.
Oung Oeun met with the provincial governor of the neighbouring Thai province Sakeo yesterday where they agreed to extend the hours of operation for the Boeung Trakoun and Malay border checkpoints to enable citizens of both countries to expand their businesses.
“On January 1 2011, we will together announce to citizens of both countries the border will be open from 8am to 5pm ... everyday, from Monday to Sunday” he told The Post by phone, after the meeting.
The two checkpoints are currently open from 9am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday – a schedule introduced in 1998, according to Oung Oeun.
“Opening these regional border checkpoints more will make it easier for the Cambodian people living in the areas across the border to trade more goods such as rice, cassava, corn, beans and more,” he said.
“I hope it will help our people living in these areas to improve their living conditions more and more by giving them more time and days to cross the border.”
Cambodia and Thailand’s new visa-exemption allows citizens of both countries to travel visa-free in the other country for 14 days.