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ASEAN: Single Visa Program Considered

(Mar. 22, 2011) The ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), based in Jakarta, Indonesia, recently issued a five-year strategic plan for tourism in the region. A key point was the possible creation of a single tourist visa for the entire area. According to Eddy Krisneidi of ASEAN's Secretariat, β€œ[y]ou would just have to apply for one visa and you could then visit all the countries using that visa.” (Jano Gibson, Tourists Could See S-E. Asia on Single Visa, INTELLASIA.NET (Mar. 18, 2011).) The countries included are ASEAN Member States Brunei Darussalam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (ASEAN Member States, ASEAN website (last visited Mar. 18, 2011).)

At present, with each nation imposing its own rules, the visa process can be confusing for tourists. According to a travel agent, potential travelers have many questions about what types of visas are needed. β€œThe rules change all the time and it introduces a level of uncertainty and confusion that the industry can do without.” (Gibson, supra.)

While single-visa advocates acknowledge implementation may take more than five years, the tourism plan includes other measures that may be put into practice within that time frame. These include regional standards for accommodation, food, and public toilets. More than 65 million foreign tourists visited the ASEAN nations in 2009. (Id.)