If you’re planning to visit Southeast Asia, visa-free travel would soon make it easier. The proposed agreement would begin to take effect sooner or later this year or early 2018. Southeast Asia’s tourism industry is looking to Europe’s models of visa-free travel and Open Skies to boost their own travel and tourism prospects.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is larger than the European Union, wants a single visa policy for the region and improved Open Skies agreements with airlines. To quote Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, “We plan to start this between Thailand and Cambodia,” she said. “There have been some issues, not concerning security, but because we give free visas to some countries but [they don’t reciprocate with Thailand].” A single visa for ASEAN countries is already in the pipeline and would be in effect by 2018.
ASEAN tourism arrivals across 10 countries, which include Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, will grow by an average of 6.5 percent per year during the next decade, said Wattanavrangkul as she at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Bangkokon April 27. The plan is to roll out a visa-free travel for ASEAN member states.