ASEAN Nations Explore Schengen-style Visa to Boost Regional Tourism

The proposed initiative aims to promote seamless travel across six ASEAN countries: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar

The ASEAN Visa, if approved, would seamlessly connect 6 countries for travelers

Officials across Southeast Asia are actively exploring the possibility of introducing a Schengen-style single visa program to enhance tourism within the region.

The proposed initiative, spearheaded by Thailand, aims to promote seamless mobility for travelers across six ASEAN countries: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

According to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), the Thailand-proposed single visa program is expected to help Vietnam attract more long-haul and high-spending travelers, providing a significant boost to the country’s tourism industry.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has been actively discussing the Schengen-type visa with his counterparts in the participating ASEAN nations over recent months, with the goal of ensuring hassle-free travel for visitors across these countries.

The proposal has been met with enthusiasm from tourism stakeholders in Vietnam. Truong Quoc Hung, Chairman of the UNESCO Hanoi Travel Club, praised Thailand’s initiative, stating that the single visa would facilitate travel for affluent tourists, thereby increasing tourism revenue and creating favorable conditions for travel firms to establish inter-regional road trips.

Nguyen Van Tai, CEO of VietSense Travel, highlighted the success of the Schengen Area in Europe, where the application of a single visa has benefited its member states. “A single visa policy will help Vietnam promote tourism linkages with its neighbors and particularly address the issue of losing out on international visitors due to current visa barriers,” Tai said.

Nguyen Tien Dat, CEO of AZA Travel, expressed confidence that the single visa policy would enhance the competitive edge of the six participating countries over other ASEAN destinations and tourism powerhouses in Asia, such as South Korea, Japan, and China.

While Vietnam has extended visa exemptions to tourists from around 30 countries and territories, compared to over 80 for Thailand, Dat believes that joining the single visa initiative would be a significant leap forward for Vietnam’s tourism visa policy.

Dr. Nuno F. Riberiro from RMIT University described the visa arrangement as a great opportunity for Vietnam to attract international visitors who might otherwise visit only Thailand and Malaysia. He suggested that Vietnam continue to extend its visa exemption to attract more visitors, especially from developed countries like Australia, Canada, the United States, and the remaining members of the European Union.

However, Ha Van Sieu, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, emphasized the need to carefully consider the political stability, defense, security, and foreign affairs of the six participating countries before implementing the single visa program.

As ASEAN countries explore this Schengen-style visa initiative, the tourism industry eagerly anticipates the potential for increased regional cooperation and a more seamless travel experience for visitors from around the world, ultimately boosting tourism across the participating nations.


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