Jan 26, 2013

ASEAN - Pan visa: ASEAN’s holy grail

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VIENTIANE, 22 January 2013: Ministers and officials of the 10 ASEAN nations pledged to expand tourism cooperation and continue discussions on a proposed pan-ASEAN tourist visa that has been on agenda for close to a decade.

More than150 tourism ministers and officials from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting.

Thailand was represented by a deputy minister of tourism as Minister Chumpol Sila-archa had been critically ill in hospital since 17 December. He passed away early Monday morning.

According to a press statement released on behalf of the government contingency attending the ATF, ASEAN leaders will consider the possibility of creating a single pan-ASEAN visa for some member countries to encourage  more tourists to visit.

Leaders also agreed to put more funding into developing tourism, source more financing from dialogue partners, and to promote tourism in the region.

Details of how they will fund the region’s ambitious marketing plan were not explained clearly at the press conference.

Tourism is of particular significance to Laos, one of the least developed countries in Southeast Asia with few domestic industries. With a population of only 6.3 million people, Laos hosted approximately 3.1 million tourists in 2012 just under half of the population  of the entire country. Arrivals are expected to reach 5 million by 2015.

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