Kosovo and Thailand are planning to adopt a visa exemption scheme for the people of both countries to celebrate 10 years of bilateral relations.
Speaking during the "Thailand-Kosovo Business Collaboration Dialogue and Networking Lunch" at the Embassy of Kosovo in Bangkok on Friday, Kosovar Charge d'affaires Ulpiana Lama said both countries are attempting to launch the scheme.
When asked by the Bangkok Post to explain the plan, Ms Lama said both countries are celebrating the 10th anniversary of bilateral relations this year, which is a good occasion to take ties to the next level.
Thailand and Kosovo, located in the Balkans in southern Europe, established diplomatic relations on Nov 22, 2013.
"Both countries have excellent relations as they are but we want to bring people to connect closer to each other," she said.
In 2018, Thailand and Kosovo signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a visa exemption scheme for holders of diplomatic and official passports, she said.
"But now we want to advance that and extend it to all passports," Ms Lama said.
"We are working with Thai authorities and government agencies to exempt all citizens from visa. We are on the right track.
"Of course, there are procedures and standards that we need to respect, and should be respected. Hopefully, we will have freedom of movement very soon," she added.
When asked about the number of Kosovars travelling to Thailand, she said that in 2015, the number was minimal, but in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, the number had risen by 30 times.
"At the moment, Thailand is the third most remote destination for Kosovo people, but the ambition of the embassy, given the enormous potential of Thailand, is to make Thailand the first or the top faraway destination for our people who want to enjoy Thailand tourism.
"Thailand is the leader in wellness sector as well along with its amazing culture and hospitality, and so much beauty. So we want that to open this opportunity to Kosovo people," Ms Lama said.
When asked about the time frame for the visa exemption, she said it is a matter of procedure, but the process of clearing hurdles has started. "Hopefully, it will be within a year," she added.
When asked about how bilateral relations will improve after the visa exemption programme is launched, Ms Lama said it will be much easier for Kosovars to travel to Thailand, and the embassy wants to make it much easier for Thais to travel to Kosovo.
"Kosovo is a gateway to Europe, and the price is much cheaper, especially for winter tourism," she said. "Also, because we have evaluated the complementarity of rivalry, Thais can have a regional tour.
"Let's say to Albania, which is only a three-hour trip, like from Bangkok to Hua Hin," she added. "Kosovo is very interesting country with a unique history."