Five including Cambodia in Thailand’s ‘one visa’ plan

Even as Cambodia and Thailand decided to promote the ‘Two Kingdoms, One Destination,’ campaign in a bid to attract more tourists to both countries, the neighbouring country is reportedly keen to take the ‘one visa’ campaign to three more Southeast Asia countries.

The decision to promote the ‘Two Kingdoms, One Destination’ campaign was taken when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet met his counterpart Srettha Thavisin in Bangkok last week.

According to the joint communique issued at the end of the talks, the two leaders tasked their tourism ministers to continue promoting the campaign.

They also agreed to explore ways and means to further ease the cross-border travel of tourists from Cambodia, Thailand and other countries. Tourism ministries of both countries are expected to focus on this as well in the coming days.

Meanwhile, reports from Thailand indicated that the neighbouring country is planning discussions with Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia to seek an agreement that a tourist with a visa or pass for one country can visit all five without further bureaucracy.

The Thai premier’s adviser Prommin Lertsuridej was quoted as saying by Pattaya Mail that Thailand “will lead negotiations for tourists to require one entry visa to travel amongst us (all five countries).”

According to the news outlet, the idea is not entirely new, but plans have collapsed in the past as various countries have their specific requirements and prices. For example, Thailand now offers some countries such as South Korea and Russia, 90 days visa exemption on arrival and without any payment.

But rules in Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam for entry of foreign tourists are different.

Reports also said that Thailand is keen on visa conformity among the five ASEAN countries so that the 27-member European Union (EU) could be encouraged to offer visa-free travel to people from these countries in return for similar facilities offered to EU citizens.

Thourn Sinan, Chairman of the Cambodia Chapter of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), told Khmer Times yesterday that the ‘Two Kingdoms, One Destination’ campaign holds great potential for boosting tourism in both countries.

“By collaborating on tourism promotion, the two nations can leverage their unique cultural and natural attractions to attract more visitors and create a seamless travel experience for tourists interested in exploring both destinations. This initiative could lead to increased economic benefits, cultural exchange, and strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries,” Sinan noted.

“If executed well, the campaign has the potential to benefit Cambodia by attracting more tourists, generating revenue, and raising the country’s profile as a must-visit destination,” he said.

Sinan also welcomed Thailand’s move to initiate talks on the proposal for a single tourism visa for visiting five Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia.

“This is an interesting idea that could significantly facilitate travel within the region. Simplifying visa procedures and promoting multi-destination itineraries would likely encourage more tourists to explore Southeast Asia as a whole, benefiting all participating countries,” he said.

The good thing, as Sinan noted, is the proactive approach to regional tourism cooperation which has the potential to bring about positive impacts for Cambodia, Thailand and other participating Southeast Asian countries.

Thailand attracted over 27 million tourists last year while Cambodia attracted 5.43 million. Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has set a target to receive 6.4 million international tourists in 2025 and seven million by 2026.

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