ASEAN governments should remove travel restrictions on their own citizens and other ASEAN members, said president of the Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA), Aung Myat Khaw.
“At the very least, ASEAN nationals should be allowed to enter any member country without visas for a minimum stay of 14 days,” he said, calling this “crucial” in the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community by end this year.
Also the president of the Union Myanmar Travel Association, Aung Myat Khaw was speaking at the FATA meeting in Kuala Lumpur where members discussed the slowdown of tourists from western markets as well as the importance of growth in regional travel, especially from China, Japan and South Korea.
He said: “It is imperative that all ASEAN countries drop visa requirements for visitors from these three East Asian countries before more of their nationals travel to other parts of the world and bypass ASEAN destinations altogether.”
Aung Myat Khaw emphasised that ASEAN governments should realise that tourist arrivals are not a given growth but requires continuous promotion. “However, such efforts would be ineffective if little effort was made to facilitate entry of visitors, especially in removing visa requirements. It is a bother to spend time and money applying for a visa and many high-spending tourists often travel at short notice, and would rather visit countries that do not require visas.”
Moreover, tourism brings an influx of businesses and investments into the country, said Hamzah Rahmat, FATA secretary general and president of MATTA.
“A government that insists on imposing visas does not want to see the potential tourism can bring for the economy,” he said.