Vietnam eyes joint tourism visa with Thailand, Cambodia

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Foreign tourists in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnamese tourism and foreign relations authorities are set to work with their counterparts from Thailand and Cambodia to introduce a single visa for tourists to the three countries.

Hoang Thi Diep, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, was quoted by Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon (Saigon Economic Times) as saying Thailand and Cambodia get a large number of tourists, are close to Vietnam, and already have a common visa for tourists.

The two countries signed an agreement last year to allow tourists from 35 countries and regions including Europe, Australia, the US, Hong Kong, Japan, China, and South Korea to visit both on a single visa.

Diep said Southeast Asian countries also plan to have a common visa for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

Ho Chi Minh City authorities in May asked the tourism administration to push for a single visa for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

La Quoc Khanh, deputy head of the city's tourism department, said Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar have been cooperating at international tourism fairs for the past few years and now want to bring Thailand into the fold.

Together the four countries attracted 14.8 million visitors last year, he said.

Travel agencies have been pushing for a one-visa policy that would enable tourists to travel freely across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

But Vietnam already rejected the common visa concept when it was first mooted in 2010.

Vietnamese tourism officials had argued that the extra visa fees would not deter wealthy travelers and visa waivers would cause major losses to the tourism industry.

Tourists have also complained that when they go to Cambodia or Laos, they can simply turn up and pay US$25 on arrival while Vietnam charges almost double at $45 for a 30-day or 90-day single entry visa, the most expensive in the region.

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