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Thailand Proposes Schengen-Type Visa for 6 Southeast Asian Countries

Prime Minister of Thailand, Sretta Tavisin, has proposed the creation of a Schengen-type visa program with Southeast Asian countries, which collectively welcomed around 70 million tourists just last year, as reported by Bloomberg agency.

In recent months, Tavisin has discussed this idea with counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The development of a counterpart to the European Schengen visa would allow tourists from around the world to travel seamlessly between the six neighboring countries, noted the agency.

Although the initiative for a “Southeast Asian Schengen” has been discussed since the early 2000s, there is currently a chance for leaders to reach an agreement, as they seek to protect their economies from “sluggish exports and weak global demand,” writes Bloomberg.

Former president of the Thai Hotels Association, Marisa Sukosol, commented that such a visa “could encourage tourists traveling long distances to make an easier decision.” According to her, the visa validity period will need to be extended to 90 days from the usual 30-day period to make the initiative more attractive.

Southeast Asian countries welcomed approximately 70 million foreign tourists last year. Thailand and Malaysia accounted for more than half of the total, bringing in around $48 billion in tourism revenue.

Sretta’s administration aims to attract 80 million tourists by 2027. Since coming to power about seven months ago, his government has signed an agreement to waive visas with China—the largest market for Thai tourists—and proposed temporary visa waivers for travelers from India, Taiwan, and Kazakhstan.

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