TRAVEL & AVIATION
A new regional survey shows four out of five Asians are in favour of a common visa arrangement that would allow them to visit all Asean states with a single visa.
Research by Skyscanner, a leading global travel site, shows that 81% of 7,000 respondents who took part in the survey supported the idea, while a visa reciprocity system between Asean countries gained the support of 87% of respondents.
The poll also revealed 80% of Thai travellers selected Japan as a preferred destination because of the Japan-Thailand 15-day visa-free agreement that took effect this July.
Respondents were from Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, India and China.
The findings also illustrated the extent to which visa requirements influence the holiday choices of Asian travellers, with 75% admitting their choice of destination was often dictated by visa requirements, and an overwhelming 88% of Thais choosing this option.
But their wish for an oft-mentioned common Asean visa scheme remain a pipe dream, as officials of the Thai Foreign Ministry confirmed.
"It's up to the leaders of Asean, and I don't know when they would bring up the issue for discussion, as there seems to be so many complications," said a ministry official.
Thai travellers want more visa-free destinations for hassle-free travel, as 90% of respondents want the government to establish visa-free agreements with more countries, especially the US.
Some 90% expressed support for a common visa system across Southeast Asia. The only Asean member that still imposes a visa requirement for Thai visitors is Myanmar. But the issue of bilateral visa exemption could be taken up "soon" by the Thailand-Myanmar Joint Commission, said ministry officials.