Southeast Asia Single-Visa Policy in Development

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Sept. 13 – Vietnamese tourism minister Hoang Tuan Anh and his counterparts from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar convened at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City this week to discuss a plan for the implementation of a single-visa policy between the countries, which should eventually extend throughout all of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Speaking at a conference for ACMECS – which stands for the Ayeyawadi, Chao Phraya and Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, a political, economic and cultural organization consisting of these five countries – Minister Hoang noted the importance and ease that a single visa would bring about when applied to all of these five nations in terms of further boosting each respective country’s tourism industries. An already booming industry within these five countries, international arrivals in 2012 reached 37 million turns – up 18 percent year on year.

Two of the ACMECS nations, Cambodia and Thailand, are already running a pilot scheme on the single-visa policy which would essentially allow a tourist that obtains a visa to enter Thailand to also be allowed to enter Cambodia, and vice versa.

Cambodian tourism minister Thong Kon confirmed that the program was first initiated this past January at the meeting.  He also noted that Thailand and Cambodia will share their experiences with regard to this single visa policy with the other three nations in order to push for the mutual visa between the five countries by 2015.

“With Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos having already set up their tourism police forces, Vietnam will seek to exchange experiences with them while fortifying our own tourism security policy,” Minister Hoang added.

At the meeting, the various ministers also reached an agreement to set up a new transnational tourism passage from Bagan (Myanmar) – Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Luang Prabang (Laos) – Vientiane (Thailand) – Siem Reap (Cambodia) – Da Nang (Vietnam) – Hue (Vietnam).

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