Southeast Asia Wants to Emulate Europe’s Visa-Free Model
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Great news for backpackers or anyone else interested in visiting several countries on one trip: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — a 10-member economic, political and security alliance representing Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — is looking to implement a single-visa policy for the entire region. This would mean that after receiving a visa for ASEAN countries, you could travel across their borders without a passport or having to apply for new visas each time.
The new single-visa policy could be in place as early as late-2017 or early-2018, starting with Thailand and Cambodia. In 2015, there were 104 million foreign visitors to the region, and as a result, ASEAN began marketing it as a singular destination instead of 10 separate countries. And while the growth of low-cost airlines in Southeast Asia has been tremendous, the region still doesn’t have a European-style Open Skies Agreement, which allows carriers from separate nations to fly from hubs in one foreign nation to another.
It seems that this move toward a more liberal travel policy is still in the works, but it’s exciting news for anyone planning a Southeast Asian adventure anytime soon. A single visa would also mean less money, fewer hassles and would ultimately make traveling between the countries a smoother experience. We’re hoping to see this policy get off the ground as soon as possible.