BANGKOK: Thailand is planning to collaborate with Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia, as well as hold talks with the European Union (EU) to launch reciprocal free-visa entries.
Prommin Lertsuridej, the PM’s secretary-general, said on Monday that Thailand will seek support from the neighboring countries to establish an agreement allowing tourists to travel freely among the five ASEAN nations after obtaining an entry visa for any of them.
He said Vietnam specifically sought help from Thailand to support its tourism sector.
“Plus, we’re close to Cambodia and Laos, and they will definitely not be opposed to the idea,” Prommin said.
“Thailand will lead negotiations for tourists to require an entry visa to travel among us.”
He said if the four neighboring states formally agree, the Thai government aims to leverage this agreement in talks with the EU, seeking Schengen visa exemptions.
Prommin highlighted the success of Thailand’s policy to exempt entry visas for foreign tourists, contributing to an increase in foreign arrivals.
Last year, despite expecting 25 million foreign arrivals, the country actually welcomed 28 million, he added.
Meanwhile, during its mobile meeting in Ranong on January 23, the cabinet approved proposals to collaborate with neighboring countries allowing foreign tourists to roam free among them without extra entry visas.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin instructed the tourism and sports ministry to hold a meeting with tourism ministers in the Mekong basin to boost cooperation.
A Government House source said several ASEAN leaders had told Srettha that they wanted Thailand to act as a hub to promote and drive tourism in the region.