‘ASEAN Drive Tourism Initiative’ Gets Nod from Five Nations

Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: REUTERS)

Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia have greenlighted the “ASEAN Drive Tourism” initiative, which will allow tourists to travel across these countries as a single tourism destination.

Approved at the 27th ASEAN Tourism Forum in Vientiane from 25-26 January, the scheme focuses on enhancing land connectivity to spur economic growth across the countries.
Thai Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakitkosol emphasized the project’s goal of promoting seamless travel across borders, acknowledging that the integration of border traffic rules and infrastructure details would be discussed in upcoming meetings.

As part of the initiative to enhance cross-border travel convenience, neighboring countries such as Thailand have already submitted two overland routes from Thailand to Vietnam, one crossing through Laos and the other crossing through Cambodia.

The initiative was pushed forward by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who brought to the diplomatic table the “Seamless ASEAN” vision during the World Economic Forum on 17 January, envisioning Southeast Asian nations as one tourist destination.

The plan aims for a comprehensive agreement, similar to Europe’s Schengen Agreement, enabling free movement for investors and tourists across the region.

The Thai prime minister expressed optimism about achieving seamless tourism across Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam within six months, emphasizing the proximity to the goal. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also supported the initiative, emphasizing the potential for a unified tourist destination.

The one tourism destination proposal originated from discussions between Thai and Vietnamese leaders in December 2023 at a summit in Tokyo.