Cambodians and citizens of Bangladesh, Bhutan, South African and Iraq can now reportedly apply for an electronic visa (e-Visa) for Turkiye, “in minutes”, which the Cambodian private sector has hailed as an effective way to promote tourism, trade and investment between the Kingdom and the transcontinental country.

The Turkish e-Visa “replaces the previous ‘sticker visa’” and is meant to expedite the visa application procedure and enable travellers to enter the country faster, according to a press release posted on global media platform dated July 29 and attributed to an entity identified as “TURKEY Official”.

“Cambodian people must apply for a Turkey e-Visa to enter Turkey for vacation, business, transit, or medical reasons,” it said, without using Ankara’s preferred spelling of “Turkiye” for the country’s name.

“Introduced in 2013, the online visa for Turkey is a single or multiple entry visa allowing stays of 30 or 90 days depending on the nationality of the passport holder. Turkey e-Visa is generally valid for 180 days from the date of issue.

“Cambodian citizens can apply for a traditional long-stay visa in Turkey or for other reasons at the Turkish Embassy in Cambodia or abroad,” it added.

The release described the e-Visa scheme as “an electronic authorisation mechanism that has allowed tourists from over 100 countries to enter Turkey since 2013 … [which is] well-known for its rich cultural heritage as well as its kindness”.

“A large number of international visitors visit Turkey to discover the amazing tourist destinations, participate in thrilling activities, and have more wonderful experiences in this beautiful country,” it said.

Ministry of Tourism secretary of state Top Sopheak could not be reached for comment on the new e-Visa policy by press time.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia Chapter chairman Thourn Sinan highlighted Turkiye’s potential as a tourism source market for the Kingdom as well as its attractiveness as a travel destination nestled between Europe and the Middle East.

“We’ve had numerous conversations with Turkiye a lot on promoting tourism and trade. However, I think that things are moving a little slowly,” he said.

Early in January, the Cambodia-Turkiye Joint Economic Commission (JEC) held its third meeting in Phnom Penh, where it affirmed its resolve to undertake related works outlined in a previously-signed joint memorandum, while also setting out additional tasks.

On May 4, Cambodian Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Tekreth Kamrang had a meeting with Turkish ambassador Ulku Kocaefe and the embassy’s first commercial counsellor Zore Aksahin Simsek in Phnom Penh.

At the meeting, the officials reiterated their commitment to completing necessary internal procedures to begin a feasibility study on a potential bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) aimed at increasing bilateral trade and investment, before launching negotiations.

Commerce ministry figures show that trade between the two countries has remained fairly limited over the years, reaching just $462.63 million in the five years from 2017-2021, with 2021 alone accounting for $90.63 million, up 2.06 per cent over 2020. The annual average from 2017-2019 was a bit higher at $94.4 million.

In January-November 2022, the bilateral trade volume came in at $136.149 million, up 63.6 per cent year-on-year.

Major Cambodian exports to Turkey comprise garments, textiles, footwear, travel goods and milled rice, while key imports include machinery, pharmaceuticals, glass panels, iron and steel, and plastics, according to the ministry.