Myanmar to Grant Visa-On-Arrival for Six More Countries
By Kyaw Thiha 5 June 2019
YANGON—In a bid to address the declining number of Western travelers to Myanmar, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has announced its plans to issue visas-on-arrival to travelers from six more countries.
The ministry currently is waiting for approval for the new scheme from the Union government, and expects to get it this month. The plan will come into effect in September when tourist high-season begins in Myanmar, deputy director-general of Hotels and Tourism Ministry U Aung Aye Han told The Irrawaddy.
“We will be able to confirm the list of the countries only after the Union government approves it. They will be the countries that have good ties with Myanmar, and that are interested in visiting here,” he said.
The new tourist visas will allow visits of up to 30 days in Myanmar and will cost US$50 under the program, he added.
According to a number of tour operators, visas-on-arrival will likely to be available for passport holders from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Germany and Australia.
“The number of Western travelers has declined due to the Rakhine issue,” said U Aung Aye Han, acknowledging that much remains to be done to attract them back to the country, besides issuing visas on arrival.
“It is a good move for the tourism industry. We have proposed issuing visas on arrival for around 20 countries, so this will be the first step,” U Khin Aung Tun, vice chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association, told The Irrawaddy.
While the majority of the Western travelers who visit Myanmar are from Germany and France, their numbers are just around 10,000 per year on average—less than 10 percent of the total number of Asian travelers to Myanmar from countries like China, Korea, Japan and Thailand.
“We receive much fewer [tourists from] Western countries compared to other [regional] countries. Other countries receive tens of thousands of travelers from Germany and France. We will have to wait. The situation will be better if we receive travelers both from the East and the West,” said U Khin Aung Tun.
Myanmar currently issues visas-on-arrival for citizens of all ASEAN countries except Malaysia, as well as for Japan, South Korea, Macao, Hong Kong and China.
Myanmar only received 3 million visitors in 2018, and most of them were Chinese travelers, according to the hotels and tourism ministry. Chinese arrivals have doubled so far this year compared to the same period last year, it said.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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