Myanmar eases visa rules for five countries

The government will relax its visa regulations for five more countries from January 1 as part of its effort to attract more foreign visitors to the country, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Travellers from the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Hungary and Austria will be given visas on arrival upon entering the country for the next three years.

“In the past, the test period of visa relations was only one year but now it has been extended to three years,” said U Than Win, director of the ministry.

The easing of visa regulations is aimed at reviving the tourism industry, which has been affected by international outrage over the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine State.

U Khin Aung Tun, vice chair of the Myanmar Tourism Federation, expressed hope the easing of the rules would attract more tourists.

“Although Myanmar does not get many visitors from these countries currently, the easing of visa rules for three years could create a tourism market,” he said.

Only about 2000 tourists came from New Zealand and Austria from as of October this year, and the number from New Zealand actually declined by 9pc compared to the same period of last year, according to the ministry.

In October, Myanmar extended its visa-on-arrival programme to Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Australia.

Myanmar has waived visa requirements for visitors from South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Macao and granted visas-on-arrival to Chinese travellers who arrive by air. The courtesy programme has been extended for another year.

Myanmar now grants visas-on-arrival to over 50 countries at its international airports in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, and allows foreign visitors a 28-day stay.

Tour operators said visitors from Western countries stay an average of 14 days and spend a lot.

As of October, over 1.5 million tourists had visited Myanmar this year, 430,000 more than in the same period last year. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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