On February 3rd, 2024, Mr. Srettha Thavisin, the Thai Prime Minister, publicly revealed after a discussion with Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, the Minister of Tourism and Sport, regarding a discussion about CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) visas as well as Malaysia, aiming to have Thailand as a major tourism hub.
After a Ministerial meeting with the Lao PDR, Sudawan publicly revealed that discussions were underway for regional tourism collaboration, particularly involving CLMV and Malaysia. The discussions were not concluded yet as regional collaboration needed mutual agreement and equal benefits, stated Sudawan.
CLMV plus Malaysia visas aimed to exempt visas while traveling through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia while holding only a Thai visa like a Schengen visa in Europe, remarked Sudawan.
However, Gen. Hun Manet, the Cambodia Prime Minister, is scheduled to officially visit Thailand on February 7, to discuss the issues regarding the proposed CLMV visa.
Srettha underscored the mutual benefits for participating countries, highlighting the robust airline industries of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, having Thailand as an aerial center to distribute incoming tourists across the region.
Additionally, Mr. Saengchai Teerakulwanich, the Chairman of the Federation Thai SME, raised questions about the long-term impact of visa-free initiatives on Thai tourism.
He emphasized the need for a comprehensive analysis to assess potential losses in visa fees against increased tourist spending.
To sustain Thai tourism, the federation proposed key areas for Thai government readiness, including encompassing safety assurance, sustaining universal standards in services and products, boosting technology in tourism, expediting access to credit, enhancing the development of labor skills in tourism, and supporting marketing strategies to attract international tourists.
Furthermore, Mrs. La-iad Bungsrithong, the Northern Thai Hotels Association advisor, discussed the potential benefits of recent visa-free travel between Thailand and China, including collaboration with CLMV countries and Malaysia. She emphasized the need for shared responsibility among state agencies, foreseeing mutual tourism gains.
While recognizing the competitive nature of the industry, especially in Thailand’s advantageous position, uncertainties lingered about genuine support from other nations. Despite challenges, La-iad remained optimistic, pending effective operational processes to overcome hurdles and ensure timely results.