Thailand Proposes Schengen-Style Visas for Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

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Thailand is taking the lead in discussions with other Southeast Asian nations to establish a unified visa system similar to the "Schengen-style," aiming to streamline travel within the region.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has singled out Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar as potential partners in this endeavor, recognizing their collective tourism appeal. Last year, these nations collectively attracted approximately 70 million visitors, illustrating the significant potential of regional tourism.

The proposals put forth by Prime Minister Srettha are part of a broader strategy in Thailand, where tourism plays a crucial role in the economy. Accounting for around 20 percent of jobs and contributing about 12 percent to a $500 billion economy, tourism holds considerable economic significance for the nation. By fostering closer ties with neighboring countries through a unified visa system, Thailand aims to further capitalize on the tourism sector's growth potential.

Reports from the Bangkok Post shed light on Prime Minister Srettha's initiatives, which include discussions on extending the validity of the proposed Schengen-style visa. Currently set at 30 days, there are considerations to extend it to 90 days, a move intended to make the visa more appealing to tourists and visitors. Such an extension could encourage longer stays and more extensive exploration within the region, boosting tourism revenues.

The envisioned Schengen-style visa for Southeast Asia is expected to facilitate easier movement between member countries, thereby promoting regional tourism and attracting a broader spectrum of visitors. Particularly enticing for travelers from the Middle East, destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam often serve as preferred holiday spots for events like Eid and summer vacations.

It's worth noting that all the countries targeted for the unified visa system are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This regional cooperation framework, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, could play a pivotal role in realizing the proposed visa system's success. By fostering closer collaboration and coordination among member states, ASEAN can further bolster tourism cooperation and economic growth throughout the region.

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