The 5th Cambodia-Thailand Tourism Technical Working Group Meeting concluded yesterday with the countries pledging to strengthen cooperation to attract more tourists.
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During the meeting, held in Thailand’s Trat province over three days, the two countries agreed to work together to facilitate tourist travel, particularly by promoting the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Single Visa scheme.
The visa programme would allow people from third nations to travel to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam with a single visa.
Thong Rathsak, director-general of tourism development and international cooperation at the Ministry of Tourism, told Khmer Times yesterday that Cambodia and Thailand are working to expand the ACMECS Single Visa scheme to all five countries.
“[At the meeting,] Cambodia and Thailand agreed to keep the ACMECS single visa programme online. We hope that in the next 10 to 20 years, the scheme can be expanded to include also Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam,” Mr Rathsak said.
According to Mr Rathsak, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam are working to enter the scheme but need to clear some regulatory hurdles.
The two sides agreed to bring up the issue of the ACMECS single visa programme during the next Asean Tourism Ministers meeting.
In 2018, nearly 300 tourists applied for ACMECS visa, Mr Rathsak pointed out.
At the meeting that concluded yesterday, Cambodia and Thailand discussed other ways of enhancing tourism cooperation, including the creation of direct flights from Thailand’s southern provinces to Sihanoukville, in the Cambodian coast.
The countries also agree to boost maritime tourist travel.
Figures from the Ministry of Tourism show that Cambodia received 3.3 million international tourists in the first half of 2019, an increase of 11 percent year-on-year. The number of Thai tourists visiting Cambodia increased by 9 percent, totalling 174,241 from January to June.
Cambodia expects to attract 400,000 Thai tourists in 2019.