Thailand leads effort for six-country visa to aid regional tourism

By TIN Media | Asean News Published 1 month ago on 10 April 2024
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THAILAND:

In a bid to enhance regional tourism and economic cooperation, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has initiated discussions among leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam to establish a Schengen-style visa programme in Southeast Asia.

This ambitious move aims to streamline travel procedures and provide unrestricted access for citizens of these six countries within the region.

With tourism serving as a vital economic engine, contributing approximately 20 per cent of total employment and 12 per cent to Thailand’s USD 500 billion economy, the proposed visa programme holds significant promise. In 2023, the collective efforts of these nations welcomed an estimated 70 million visitors, with Thailand and Malaysia contributing more than half of this figure, generating around USD 48 billion in tourism revenue.

Recognising the resilience of the tourism sector against economic downturns, particularly evident during the pandemic years, Thai leadership views the Schengen-style visa programme as a strategic tool to further propel regional tourism growth. This initiative is expected to foster increased travel flows, benefiting not only the participating countries, but also stimulating economic activity across Southeast Asia.

As discussions progress, stakeholders anticipate the implementation of the visa programme to pave the way for a more interconnected and prosperous tourism landscape in the region, positioning Southeast Asia as a premier destination for travellers worldwide.


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