Myanmar to issue visas on arrival to six more countries

Bagan 1

Tourists can be seen in a horse-drawn carriage in Bagan. / Irrawaddy River

YANGON – In an effort to address a decline in the number of Western tourists visiting Myanmar, Myanmar’s 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 Coalition government for the new plan, which it expects to receive this month. U Aung Aye Han, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, told The Irrawaddy that the plan will come into effect in September, when Myanmar is heading into the peak tourist season.

“We can confirm the list of countries only after the approval of the federal government. They will be countries that have good relations with Myanmar and are interested in visiting here,” he said.

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.

“The number of Western tourists has declined because of the Rakhine issue,” U Aung Aye Han said, acknowledging that beyond issuing visas on arrival, there is much work to be done to lure them back to the country.

“This is a good move for the tourism industry. We have proposed issuing visas on arrival for 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 Irrawaddy .

While most Western tourists visiting Myanmar come from Germany and France, their numbers average only around 10,000 a year — less than 10 percent of the total number of Asian tourists from countries such as China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.

“Compared to other (regional) countries, we receive much fewer (tourists) (from) Western countries. Other countries receive tens of thousands of tourists from Germany and France. We will have to wait. If we It would be better to receive travelers from both the East and the West,” 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, mostly Chinese tourists. The number of Chinese tourists has doubled so far this year compared to the same period last year, the report said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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