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May 25, 2008

Thailand mulls Asean visa

Thailand plans to push for a common visa system for the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) when it assumes chairmanship of the regional bloc this year, a PFilipino daily reported Saturday.

The Manila Bulletin quoted visiting Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej as telling Philippines President Macapagal Arroyo that a common visa system for Asean would allow its ten member-countries to become a single tourist destination and share the popularity of tourist spots in the region.

Arroyo welcomed the plan for a single visa system, and said the plan would allow tourists to the most popular destinations to spill over to other tourist spots.

"Thailand is the acknowledged leader in tourism in our region. And I am glad that His Excellency, the Prime Minister, thinks it is a wise idea to share Thailand’s market with the rest of Asean," Arroyo said during the welcome ceremonies for Prime Minister Samak Thursday night in Malacanang presidential palace.

The proposed common visa for Asean will allow foreigners to visit all the ten countries of Asean with just one visa. It is in keeping with the planned full economic integration of Asean by 2015, which would be patterned after the single economy of the members of the European Union.

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