The idea of having one visa for all ASEAN member states has been bandied about for a while, but now it looks as though plans are being finalised to turn this into a reality. The deadline is 2015.
The benefits for foreign travellers are many but the most obvious one is increasing ease of travel; the flow-on effect of this being increased tourism in the region.
Currently, citizens of ASEAN member states can travel seamlessly between other states and the idea now is that foreign travellers (ie from outside member states) will be able to apply for an ASEAN visa and travel to any or all member states as a result. So, you travel through Indochina on the one visa instead of having one for Viet Nam, one for Cambodia, one for Lao etc. The monetary saving is quite significant, and the processing time would be drastically reduced as a result.
Suffice to say, a quick survey of my colleagues garnered some pretty excited responses – in tourism, change doesn’t always make life easier but this is one your friendly local travel agent is going to be very excited about, as well as your backpacker friends!
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries: