The Future of ASEAN Travel

Immediately after arriving at Siem Reap International Airport, we queued on the Visa on Arrival counter. A gracious airport staff approached us, and upon seeing our passports, he said; You don’t need to queue here, you are exempted. And then I remembered that ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries enjoy the privilege of visa free or visa exemption requirement when traveling around Southeast Asia for their citizens. We gratefully smiled at him and proceeded to the special counter dedicated for ASEAN member states.  My Philippine passport is powerful.

Traveling around Southeast Asia has become easier for its citizens. Latest statistics of tourist arrivals in ASEAN (as of January 2015) shows that majority of the regional sources of visitors in the Southeast Asian region are also from ASEAN member states. With the emergence of Low Cow Carriers in Southeast Asia, it has becoming a trend for ASEAN locals to visit the region. One example is the recent AirAsia Asean Pass where one can enjoy the ease of traveling around Southeast Asia by buying credits that can be used to book flights at a fixed rate.

List of ASEAN Member States
Brunei Darussalam
ASEAN Common Visa is currently in the works at the tourism board of ASEAN. The common visa envisions having a single visa for ASEAN member states (the idea of which is similar to the Schengen visa for European countries).  If approved, the non-ASEAN citizens will enjoy the ease of traveling around the region, avoiding the troubles of securing individual visas for each country (which can be really stressful). It will definitely save time and money for travelers like us.

With the advent of surpassing beyond the nation and thinking about the region, the Philippines has a lot of challenges to battle; congestion, inadequate infrastructure, support system deficiency (roads, trains, etc.) and lack of regional standards, to name a few. The country has been aggressive in responding to the said challenges by; opening more international flights in the country’s major airports, government support on international joint ventures and intense local tourism campaigns, among others.

So what will the Philippines gain from the ASEAN integration?

  • It will intensify the number of tourists in the country
There will be an increase in tourist movement around the region with the ASEAN integration. Compared to other ASEAN member states, the Philippines is generally an English-speaking nation which is our leverage on welcoming more visitors every year, having no direct competitor in this field.
  • It will generate more travel-related jobs.
The ASEAN integration will produce more employments from the small and medium enterprises to the bigger tourism businesses. Career paths in the travel industry will also be established. The Philippines will get more percentage in the tourism business such as pilots, cabin crews, etc.
  • It will create new routes in the region.
It is important to note that Philippines will benefit from the said collaboration in terms of connectivity to other member states. Unlike the other countries that are connected by land, the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands which is not the usual route for travelers who are set to conquer the Southeast Asian region. The ASEAN integration will boost the tourism movement by conquering barriers in cross-country traveling.
  • It will promote international tourism standards.
The different sectors in tourism service (airports, hotels, tour services, airport regulators, etc.) will work together in shaping the tourism business in the country thus, pushing towards excellence in providing exceptional local tourism.

The Philippines is ready to take advantage of the ASEAN integration. The potentialities of the country will be unleashed and the future of ASEAN travel will gear towards regional rather than national. As a region with a common vision, the next big thing will be Southeast Asia as a whole. 

And now I’m thinking, where do I bring my powerful Philippine passport? Maybe, Myanmar? Brunei? How about Laos? Now things are really getting exciting!


  1. Thank you very much fr this very informative post. Keep in touch when time to explore more of Mindanao :)


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