ASEAN, a 'smart' vision for 4 countries by 2015
Common computerized entry visa approved for Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines. The aim is to encourage tourism and foreign investment in south-east Asia.

Nay Pyi Taw (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The governments of Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines will collaborate in the creation of a common computerized visa program. The declaration of intent, which hopes to encourage tourist movements and the flow of capital, was signed by the four countries on 5 June, on the occasion of the 22nd Asian Forum for the world economy.

The project, which is shared by the Ministries of Tourism of the four governments, is part of a broader initiative promoted by all ASEAN countries two years ago. As explained by the Indonesian Minister, Mari Elka Pangestu, "tourism is a priority for the business community of the association, as well as creating opportunities for integration between the various countries."

The project, proposed for the first time at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in 2011, has already been tried between Thailand and Cambodia will come into effect in four other countries in 2015. The initiative takes on particular significance in a country like Myanmar, where the military regime, in government until the 2011 elections, has controlled the influx of foreign visitors for years.

Hatay U Aung, Burma's Minister of Tourism, explained the new policy stating that "the purpose of the common visa is breaking down bureaucratic barriers that discourage traveling through the region." He added that "this objective will be achieved by working closely with other governments".

In a region where the tourism sector is among the main drivers of the economy, the facilitation of local movements could give a substantial boost to the individual countries as well as promoting the arrival of foreign capital. The 'smart' visa was introduced in Australia in 1996. It is an electronic document that replaces the traditional visa and may be issued by agencies or airlines. As explained by the secretary of tourism of the Philippines, Ramon R. Jimenez Jr, "we are trying to make the most of new technologies minimizing waste."