Tourists will soon be able surf in Bali, shop in Singapore and eat spicy street food in Thailand before crossing into Cambodia and cruising the Mekong in Vietnam with a single tourist visa.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is working on a plan that would open the region to foreign tourists in the same way Europe's unified visa system has streamlined travel.
Eddy Krisneidi, an official of the ASEAN Secretariat, said in its Tourism Strategic Plan for the next five years, foreign tourists who just have to apply for one visa to one ASEAN member country can visit all other countries, ranging from Angkor Wat in Cambodia to five-star beach resorts in Bali.
ASEAN countries recorded more than 65 million foreign visitor arrivals in 2009. Malaysia led the field, followed by Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei.
Analysts said that one visa for all ASEAN member countries will help attract more tourists to the region.