THAILAND is planning to implement a Schengen visa system or joint visa program with five ASEAN countries. This is done to attract more foreign tourists and increase the country’s foreign exchange.

As reported by Bloomberg, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who has promised to make Thailand a tourism hub, has discussed the idea of a Schengen visa with five ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Unfortunately, Indonesia and Singapore are not among the countries that will implement this idea.

Later, with this Schengen visa concept, Thailand, which depends on tourism, aims to generate more income from tourists. This single visa concept can also protect Thailand’s economy from obstacles such as sluggish exports and weakening global demand, which is detrimental to its manufacturing industry.

Earlier, six ASEAN countries reported a total of 70 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2023. Thailand and Malaysia accounted for more than half of that number, generating US$48 billion in tourism revenue.

“A common visa can attract foreign tourists to make decisions more easily. The visa validity period must be extended to 90 days from the usual 30 days to make it attractive,” said former Thai Hotel Association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi.

Meanwhile, the Srettha government has also set a target of 80 million tourists by 2027. Since taking power seven months ago, the Srettha government has signed a visa-free agreement with China, Thailand’s largest tourist market.

Thailand has also offered temporary visa waivers to tourists from India, Taiwan and Kazakhstan. The government is also considering plans to open casinos within large entertainment and event-based tourism complexes to help the country generate more revenue. [sources/photo special]