Southeast Asia’s six-nation visa to draw more tourists to Việt Nam

May 21, 2024 - 21:05
The proposal would allow visitors to Việt Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar to enter on just a single visa.
A group of foreign visitors in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — A Thailand-initiated single visa programme for six ASEAN countries is expected to help Việt Nam attract more long-haul and high-spending travelers, according to insiders.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has discussed the Schengen-type visa with his counterparts in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Việt Nam in recent months, aiming to ensure seamless mobility for travelers in all six countries.

Hailing Thailand’s initiative, Chairman of the UNESCO Hà Nội Travel Club Trương Quốc Hùng said the single visa will facilitate rich tourists’ travel, thus increasing tourism revenue, while creating favourable conditions for travel firms to form inter-regional road trips.

Meanwhile, VietSense Travel CEO Nguyễn Văn Tài highlighted the success story of the Schengen Area, where the application of a single visa has been benefitting its member states.

“A single visa policy will help Việt Nam promote tourism linkages with its neighbours and particularly address the issue of losing international visitors due to current visa barriers. Therefore, travel firms have high expectations for the establishment of a joint visa region."

Similarly, AZA Travel CEO Nguyễn Tiến Đạt believes that with the single visa policy, the six countries will be able to improve their competitive edge over other ASEAN destinations and tourism powers in Asia like the Republic of Korea, Japan and China.

Việt Nam has extended visa exemptions for tourists from some 30 countries and territories as compared to over 80 nationalities eligible for visa exemptions in Thailand, he said, adding that joining the initiative will be a quantum leap for Việt Nam's tourism visa policy.

If Việt Nam does not jump on the bandwagon, it will lose tourism opportunities and advantages over the five countries, Đạt stressed.

From an expert perspective, Dr. Nuno F. Ribeiro from RMIT University described the visa arrangement as a great opportunity for Việt Nam to attract international visitors who may otherwise visit only Thailand and Malaysia.

Seeing Việt Nam's new visa policy as a way to grow tourism, he suggested the country continue to extend its visa exemption to attract more visitors, especially considering visa exemptions for those from developed countries like Australia, Canada, the US, and the remaining members of the European Union.

Deputy Director General of the Việt Nam National Authority of Tourism Hà Văn Siêu said that political stability, defence and security and foreign affairs in all six countries should be looked into carefully before the single-visa programme is rolled out. — VNS