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Vietnam, four ASEAN nations to move toward single visa policy

Thursday, September 11, 2014, 14:35 GMT+7
Vietnam, four ASEAN nations to move toward single visa policy
Boats with light displays are seen on Saigon River during a boat parade held to kick off the 2014 ITE HCMC in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10, 2014.

Tourism officials from Vietnam and four other Southeast Asian countries, all members of the ACMECS bloc, agreed on Wednesday to continue urging their governments to promote convenient travel for tourists, including applying a single visa policy.

Vietnamese tourism minister Hoang Tuan Anh and his counterparts from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar convened at a ministerial retreat in Ho Chi Minh City, where dialogues on easing travel barriers and issuing a single visa topped the agenda.

ACMECS, which stands for Ayeyawadi – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, is a political, economic, and cultural organization among the five countries.

The Ayeyawadi, Chao Phraya, and Mekong are rivers that greatly affect the socio-economic development of the involved nations.

One year after issuing a joint statement on tourism cooperation at the 2013 retreat, the ACMECS admitted that the single visa policy has not been realized.

But the countries have taken a step closer to the plan, with Thailand and Cambodia running a pilot single visa policy, under which an international tourist obtaining a visa to enter Thailand is allowed to enter Cambodia, and vice versa.

The ACMECS tourism officials eventually reached an agreement that they will continue to call on their home governments to launch policies that help increase travel convenience for tourists.

They also discussed mutual tourism promotional programs on transnational packages between the five countries.

The activities will help ACMECS achieve its target of attracting 50 million international tourists, especially those from the EU, the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, in 2015.

At last year’s meeting, the ministers also entered into an agreement to set up a new transnational tourism route from Bagan – Chiang Mai – Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Siem Reap – Da Nang – Hue.

The ACMECS ministerial retreat was held as part of the 2014 International Travel Expo – Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC).

Now in its tenth edition, the three-day ITE HCMC officially runs from September 11 to 13 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center and is expected to attract international travel agents from 30 nations and territories.

Vietnamese tour organizers will present the most interesting aspects of the 28 tourism provinces and cities countrywide at the event, which is hoped to woo more than 20,000 visits.

The expo received 18,000 visits last year.

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