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Thailand proposes single-visa scheme with Southeast Asian neighbors


Thailand’s PM suggests a Schengen-like visa for easier travel across six Southeast Asian countries, aiming to boost regional tourism.

BANGKOK, THAILAND – In a visionary move aimed at enhancing regional tourism, Thailand‘s Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, has proposed the introduction of a Schengen-like visa scheme that would include Thailand and five other Southeast Asian countries: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. This initiative, designed to simplify travel across these nations, is anticipated to attract more long-distance and high-spending tourists, further boosting the region’s tourism sector.

Last year, these six countries collectively welcomed approximately 70 million tourists, with Thailand and Malaysia accounting for more than half of these visits. The proposed single-visa scheme is expected to significantly contribute to increasing these numbers by facilitating easier access for international visitors to explore the rich cultural and natural heritage of the region.

According to Bloomberg, discussions about the single-visa concept have already taken place, with Srettha engaging with regional counterparts and receiving a broadly positive response. The initiative represents one of the most ambitious tourism strategies put forth by the Thai Prime Minister, aimed at sustaining the long-term growth of the tourism industry—a vital component of the country’s economy.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the past President of the Thai Hotels Association, believes that a unified visa would not only simplify travel decisions for long-haul tourists but also suggests that extending its validity to 90 days, rather than the standard 30-day limit, could enhance its appeal significantly.

Bill Barnett, Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks, further highlighted that the benefits of such visa-free travel would extend beyond tourism, positively impacting business travel and trade by facilitating smoother cross-border movement.

The tourism sector plays a crucial role in the Southeast Asian economy, representing about 20% of all jobs and accounting for approximately 12% of Thailand’s $500 billion economy. In 2023, the six nations generated about $48 billion in tourism-related revenue, underscoring the importance of continued innovation and cooperation in promoting regional tourism.

This single-visa initiative is a testament to the collaborative spirit of Southeast Asia and its dedication to creating a more interconnected and accessible region for travelers worldwide. By making it easier for visitors to experience the diverse beauty and hospitality of Southeast Asia, the scheme promises to usher in a new era of tourism prosperity for the participating countries.

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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.