ASEAN agreement on visa exception
The recent signing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Framework Agreement on Visa Exception (FAVE) is being termed as a boon for the tourism industry as well as for dreams of regional unities.
Recently, the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Visa Exception was signed during the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Citizens of ASEAN nations traveling within member countries no longer require a visa for social visits of up to 14 days. The agreement will take effect once it is ratified by all 10-member countries. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
As per the information available, combined with growing affluence in many of the 10 member states, as well as an era of cheap air travel, the pact which will allow two-week visa-free entry for ASEAN nationals traveling within the bloc is expected to have a real impact.
This move should result in greater ease of travel within the region and stimulate more social and commercial interaction within ASEAN, said Singapore-based Tiger Airways, chief executive Tony Davis.
He added, Tiger Airways is well positioned to facilitate this increase in travel demand and is ready to expand its services to make air travel within the region easily available and affordable.
Terming the decision as one in the right direction, Air Asias chief executive Tony Fernandes said he hoped the governments will now reduce airport taxes and other travel-related levies to make ASEAN a common market for travel.
When travel is made easy and cheap, it will spur people to travel and AirAsia will benefit. We are best placed to take advantage of it, he said.
The new initiative means that countries such as Myanmar, which had only allowed citizens of Thailand and the Philippines to enter without a visa before, must now also allow visa-free entry to the other ASEAN citizens. The relaxation on visa is expected to boost intra-ASEAN travel and boost the regions tourism sector. However, the agreement would only be enforced after ratification.
In July, an initiative was taken for tourists to enjoy the convenience of one-stop-shopping for air tickets, hotels and tour packages for different ASEAN member countries. According to Tunku Iskandar, chairman of Intra-ASEAN Travel Committee, the project Visit ASEAN Pass, aimed to promote intra-and inter-ASEAN tourism and supported by the national tourism organizations of all 10 ASEAN countries, was introduced one year ago and launched from January, 2006 at an ASEAN tourism forum.
The Visit ASEAN Pass, comprising the ASEAN AirPass, the ASEAN HotelPass and the ASEAN TourPass, is to provide travelers with special deals offered by the national airlines and members of the national hotel associations and national travel agents associations. * etn