YANGON – In an effort to address a decline in the number of Western tourists visiting Myanmar, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has announced plans to issue visas-on-arrival to tourists from six more countries.
The ministry is now awaiting approval from the federal government for the new plan, which is expected this month. U Aung Aye Han, Deputy Minister of Hotels and Tourism, told The Irrawaddy that the plan will come into effect in September when Myanmar’s peak tourist season begins.
“Only after the approval of the federal government can we confirm the list of countries. They will be countries that have good relations with Myanmar and are interested in visiting Myanmar.”
He added that the new tourist visa will allow a stay of up to 30 days in Myanmar and will cost US$50.
Passport holders from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Germany and Australia may be granted a visa on arrival, according to some travel agencies.
“Western tourists have declined due to the Rakhine issue,” said U Aung Ayhan, acknowledging that besides issuing visas on arrival, many measures are needed to attract them back to the country.
“This is a good move for the tourism industry. We have proposed issuing visas on arrival to about 20 countries, so this will be the first step,” U Khin Aung Tun, vice-chairman of the Union of Myanmar Tourism Associations, told The Irrawah Bottom newspaper”.
While most Western tourists to Myanmar come from Germany and France, the average number is only around 10,000 a year, less than 10 percent of the total number of Asian tourists to Myanmar from countries such as China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
“Compared to other (regional) countries, we receive far fewer tourists (from) from Western countries. Other countries receive tens of thousands of tourists from Germany and France. We will have to wait. If we also receive tourists from Travelers from the East and West, it will be better,” said U Khin Aung Tun.
Myanmar currently issues visas on arrival to citizens of all ASEAN countries except Malaysia, as well as Japan, South Korea, Macau, Hong Kong and China.
According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar received just 3 million tourists in 2018, most of them from China. So far this year, the number of Chinese tourists has doubled compared to the same period last year, the report said.
Thet Ko Ko Translated from Burmese.
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