YANGON—Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has relaxed travel restrictions for foreigners visiting Kayah State, allowing them to visit two previously restricted areas.
To commemorate the 68th anniversary of Kayah State Day on Jan. 15, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on Wednesday lifted restrictions on visiting Daw Ta Ma Gyi Village in Demoso Township and Htei Kho Village in Hpruso Township.
“Those villages already have community-based tourism. Previously, foreigners had to seek prior approval from authorities to visit those villages. Now, they don’t need to do so,” said a ministry official who asked not to be named. He said that previously, foreigners could only visit urban areas of those townships freely.
He added that the Hotels and Tourism Ministry may coordinate with the Home Affairs Ministry and the state government for the security of foreign visitors, if necessary.
According to the Loikaw branch of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar tourism authorities and their Thai counterparts are also involved in negotiations to establish the border between Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province and Kayah State’s Mese Township as an international border gate.
During a session of the Lower House of Parliament in December, deputy Hotels and Tourism Minister U Tin Latt said his ministry would work to develop tourist sites in Mese Township.
U Aung Lin Tun, chairman of the Myanmar Tour Guide Association, told The Irrawaddy that until this week, foreigners wanting to visit the Daw Ta Ma Gyi and Htei Kho areas had to apply for a special permit at least three days in advance.
“Some [foreign travelers] want to visit places that are not included in travel packages. In that case, in the past, they had to seek permission and they were often rushed. Now, they can travel as freely as they wish,” said U Aung Lin Tun.
“Those areas are mostly visited by European travelers,” he added. The area primarily attracts French, German, and Italian travelers but very few Asian travelers.
Nearly 100,000 local and foreign travelers have visited Kayah State annually for the past few years, according to the Loikaw branch office of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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