Myanmar mulls easing visas

YANGON : Myanmar will soon announce visa-free travel for Japanese and Korean national as well as visa-on-arrival for Chinese citizens at specified airports.

Myanmar Tourism Marketing chairperson, May Myat Mon Win, confirmed to TTR Weekly, Wednesday, that new visa privileges were in the pipeline.

There have been no official announcements by the country’s Ministry of Labour Immigration and Population.

Earlier in the week, Myanmar Times broke the news on the changes quoting U Khin Zaw, an adviser of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

According to the report various ministries (Hotels and Tourism, Labour, Immigration and Population and Foreign Affairs) discussed visa-free travel for Japan and South Korea and visa-on-arrival for China in Nay Pyi Taw last week.

It is understood visa-free status for Japanese and Koreans could be in place before the main tourist season begins at the end of October.

Asked for an assessment of the impact visa-free travel would have on tourism the MTM chairperson said: “It will certainly lead to an increase of visitors from these nations as we witnessed an increase from other countries such as Singapore when visa-free travel was introduced.”

She estimated the increase could be as high as 30% from visitors from Japan and South Korea. MTM has already organised road shows and attended trade shows and invited travel journalists, TV producers and digital marketing influencers from Japan, South Korea and China.

“It could ultimately give us a 50% increase in visits,” she said.

The latest statistics from MTM monitor arrivals at just Yangon Airport, the country’s main gateway. The figures reflect arrivals for all travel purposes not just tourism.

In 2017, Yangon airport recorded 1,139,166 arrivals of which 95,908 (+1%) were from Japan, 63, 612 (+1%) from Korea and 143,037 (+13%) from China.

Year-to-date arrivals at Yangon Airport, January to April 2018, showed a slight decline of 1% from 412,089 to 406,869.

China delivered a healthy 31% increase with 62,778 arrivals compared with 47,965 year-to-date. Japan delivered 32,715 arrivals year to-date down 1% and Korea 22,969 down 2%.

Visa-on-arrival facilitation for Chinese would encourage an even more dramatic growth as there appears to be strong demand for travel to Myanmar.

“We will give VOA to Chinese group tours that come with tour companies. One or two hundred Chinese package tours are organised in Myanmar,” U Khin Zaw told the Myanmar Times.

Looking forward, Myanmar Tourism Marketing chairperson, May Myat Mon, is encouraging members to develop specific products for the three markets and to deal directly with tour operators especially those developing tours in niche markets.

MTM reports that in the coming months more accommodation at different price levels will be opening including new accommodation options in secondary destinations such as Mon and Kayin state and Tanintharyi division including the Myeik archipelago.

“We can confirm that travel agents are offering a more diverse range of travel experiences that include food tasting, biking, hiking and kayaking, birdwatching and other nature focussed activities.

“Myanmar is a very diverse country which offers experiences across a broad range of markets and for people from all ages worldwide,” she said.

Source : TTR Weekly

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