Myanmar tourism rolls out red carpet

The first tourists from Japan, South Korea and China to take advantage of Myanmar’s easing of visa rules enjoyed a VIP welcome at Yangon Airport Wednesday.

A celebration at the airport welcomed travellers flying in from Japan and Korea, who were among the first to enjoy a visa-free privilege that was introduced on Monday.

The Japanese passengers arrived on TG303, a codeshare flight with ANA that sponsored the welcome celebration along with Korean Air and Air China.

The Air China flight arrived from Kunming later in the morning, but there were other flights from China Southern flying in from Guangzhou at 1025 and China Eastern from Kunming. Chinese citizens are now eligible for a visa-on-arrival at Myanmar’s three international airports — Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Valid for a 30-day stay, the visa costs USD50.

A Korean Air flight from Seoul brought in the first Koreans who can now enjoy a visa-free stay of up to 30 days.

The celebrations were hosted by Yangon International Airport and supported by the Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism, chairman of the Myanmar Tourism Federation and sister associations representing the country’s tourism. Ambassadors from China, South Korea and Japan attended as well as invited guests from the commercial and tourism sectors.

The celebration covered all flights arriving on Wednesday. Some were from Bangkok such as THAI and Bangkok Airways designated codeshare flights that partner with airlines based in the three countries, including Asiana Airlines.

Travellers from the three countries were identified at the immigration checkpoint for a VIP traditional welcome including the presentation of commemorative gifts.

Meanwhile, the Union of Myanmar Travel Associations reported earlier this week that it held meetings with International Air Transport Association (IATA) to establish the framework to introduce IATA’s Bank Settlement Plan. The worldwide payment service would allow accredited travel agents in Myanmar to pay for airline tickets through a monthly direct debit processed by IATA’s banking partner. It would do away with the need for agents to individually settle airfare bills directly in cash with each airline operating flights to Myanmar.

IATA representatives met with 12 accredited IATA agents, based in Yangon, who will make up the core members of a BSP pilot project.

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