Monthly Archives: August 2013

Asia Wings to enter joint partnership with Japan’s ANA


An aircraft from Asian Wings seen in Yangon International Airport (Photo-AFP)

Local carrier Asia Wings Airways is expected to sign a joint venture with Japan’s All Nippon Airways this year, according to company director.

Asia Wings executive director Lwin Moe, told the reporters on Wednesday that the airline will buy 10 more airbuses and will continue to operate under its own name, launching international flights by October 2014.

“The two airlines will cooperate in expanding local and international flights, acquiring new airplanes, and gaining internationally recognised standards of safety and services,” said Lwin Moe.

Foreign investment in local airlines was not allowed in the past, which makes Asia Wings the first local airline to enter a joint venture with a foreign airline.

The two airlines are expected to sign an agreement at the end of this year. All Nippon Airways (ANA) will acquire 49 percent of the shares while Asia Wings will maintain 51 percent in line with the Foreign Investment Law.

ANA currently flies three times a week from Tokyo to Yangon and will start offering direct flights starting from September 30.

Asia Wings officials also dispelled rumours of the airline was to become a sister airline of Air Bagan airline, owned by local tycoon Tay Za. They insisted that the two airlines have no relations with each other.

Permission still required for tourists to visit Myeik Archipelago, Southern Myanmar

Foreign tourists seeking to visit the pristine Myeik Archipelago in Southern Myanmar still need to submit permission from the authorities, according to officials.

“It has been specified that tourists are only allowed to travel in the towns in Kawthaung, Boat Pyin, Kha Mauk Kyi, Pyi Gyi Manai, Tayatchaung, Pu Law, and Kyunsu townships and they need prior permissions if they want to travel to nearby areas. As it is a journey by sea route, the specification has been set up due to weather and transportation conditions,” said an official from the Myeik district immigration department.

The border gates in Tanintharyi Region’s Kawthaung and Hteekham will be opened to tourists starting on August 28 and the tourists are expected to visit theislands in the Myeik Archipelago.

“When the tourists arrive, we still need places for them to visit. We need infrastructures for lodging and transportation, and security when travelling to far away islands. Now tour companies are travelling to [the islands] after drawing up tour programs. Depending on the tour program, the tourists can travel to the islands that are on the allowed list,” said an official from the Myeik district administrative ward.

Pristine white beaches, uninhabited islands and the elusive Salon people (Sea Gypsies) are the main attractions for tourists but the archipelago lacks in infrastructure and transportation.

“The southern area of the Myeik Archipelago and some islands in Kyunsu township are uninhabited so there aren’t any shuttle services to those places. The tour companies have to make arrangements for the tourists,” said a person who has studying the tourism industry in the Myeik Archipelago.

“Even though Pahtaw Pahtet Island is opposite Myeik, a special permission is needed to visit the island,” he said.

Besides the border gates in Kawthaung and Hteekham, Mawtaung border gate is also expected to be open for tourists within this year so Thai tour companies have been making inquires to work together with local tour companies, he added.

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Myanmar beefs up security for foreign tourists

Myanmar has tightened security measures to prevent terrorists attacks on foreign tourists visiting the country especially in popular sites, according to police.
In this year, rumours of possible terrorist attacks and recent riots have required Myanmar’s police force to beef up security measures for foreign visitors.
“Our force still doesn’t cover the whole country, but effective security measures have been taken in areas where most tourists visit. The Tourist Police Department are now working together with local police forces in implementing these measures. As our force is still young, we have requirements to get better in our services. So we’re trying hard to improve,” said Police Colonel Myo Min Oo, from the Tourist Police Department.
Local police departments across the country are also leading activities such as engaging in public talks to ensure tourist security.
“Many tourists visit our area. So our police force patrols the area every day. We have also taken necessary preventive measures in the area. A day before, we had persuaded a foreign couple to get to a nearby hotel as they said they would stay by the roadside for the night. We give help as much as we can,” said a senior police officer from Nyaung Shwe Township Police Department in Shan State.

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Myanmar to sign visa exemptions with ASEAN countries

Myanmar will sign reciprocal visa exemption with ASEAN countries next fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During a parliamentary session on Monday, Deputy Minister Tin Oo Lwin said that Myanmar and Laos signed a reciprocal 14-day visa exemption for ordinary passport holders in 2006. It will try to sign visa exemptions with the other ASEAN countries in the next fiscal year.
Myanmar has received over US$29 billion from visa fees collected by its embassies, permanent missions, and consulates in international countries from April 2011 to May 2013.
Respective offices transfer the money they have collected for issuing visas, testimonials, and extending passports and issue new ones to Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank in Euros every three month.
The bank then transfers the money to respective ministries in equivalent Kyat, the deputy minister added. Myanmar has signed an agreement with Cambodia, Indonesia, and Philippines in June to develop a smart visa system for tourism development in the region.

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Thai-Myanmar border crossings to become official border gates

Thai-Myanmar border gates will be designated as official international border gates as of August 28 this year, according to Myanmar’s Ministry of Immigration and Population.
This will allow Thai citizens and foreign tourists with valid passports to enter Myanmar by land and depart from other official gateways including Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay.
A bilateral agreement between the two countries will create official gates at Tarchileik-Mae Sai, Myawady-Mae Sot, Kawthaung-Ranong and Htee Khee-Sunaron.
No official changes have yet been made concerning length of stay, renewal of visa, and visa fees. And visa-on-arrival will still not be available at the border gates due to the current security situation, officials said.
Visitors can visit anywhere in the country except restricted areas released in this January by Ministry of Home Affairs. The list of the restricted areas can be acquired at any of the border gates.

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Four Thai-Myanmar border crossings to be opened on August 28


 Myawady border gates which is one of Myanmar-Thai border checkpoints (Photo/EMG)

Myanmar and Thai citizens, as well as foreign tourists, will be allowed to pass through four Thai-Myanmar border checkpoints, including Myawady, starting from August 28, an official said.

“We have received instructions to allow Thai citizens and foreign tourists to pass through all four border checkpoints on August 28. The remarkable thing is that Myanmar citizens with visas and passports will also be allowed to visit [Thailand] through the border crossings,” said an official from the Immigration and National Registration Department of Myawady District.

The four checkpoints include Tarchileik-Mae Sai, Myawady-Mae Sot, Kawthaung-Ranong and Htee Khee-Sunaron.  Fine will be imposed if their visa expired.

Foreign visitors using the border crossings can depart from Myanmar through any official gateways including Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, and Mandalay.

The government has amended its list of restricted areas after an improvement in rules of law and stability in the country.

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Myanmar prepares new hotels ahead of SEA Games

53 hotels with 4286 rooms will be available for guests and sports fans during 27th South East Asian (SEA) Games to be hosted in Myanmar in December.

The new hotels are under construction in Nay Pyi Taw, the official capital of the country, according to Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The brand new Hotel Shwe Pyi Taw with 110 rooms is now in service in the capital and the Mya Nandaw with 46 rooms is also expected to open in October in the city’s hotel zone.

National sports teams, fans and media observers – including athletes, coaches and managers – are required to send official lists to Myanmar’s Olympic Committee to obtain accommodation.

The 27th Southeast Asia (SEA) Games will be held in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Ngwe Saung beach this coming December.

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Myanmar’s once restricted sites attract foreign tourists

Myanmar’s once-restricted tourist sites are becoming places of interest among the foreign visitors, according to the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.

Many famous sites such as Mogok city in Mandalay Region and Mrauk Oo in Rakhine State were once barred to foreign visitors. Although many are now open, some still requite special permits.

“In Rakhine, tourists are interested in Sittwe and Mrauk Oo. These places are no longer restricted sites. Currently, tourists are starting to visit Mogok. The tourists come from various lands – both eastern and western countries,” said Myint Tun Oo, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.

Mogok is renowned worldwide for being home to high-quality gemstones especially rubies and sapphires. Foreigners were banned to visit the place un until March 2013 when the Myanmar government reviewed the restricted sites for foreign visitors. The place can now be visited if the tourist has obtained the required special permit from the authorities.

Mrauk Oo is famous for having a collection of several ancient pagodas. It used to be a well known destination among tourists interested in history and culture. However, the visit to Mrauk Oo was banned when a communal violence broke out in Rakhine State last year. Permission is now required before arrival to visit the place.

Among the tourists who had applied the special permits to visit the earlier-restricted tourism sites include those from Thailand, China, India, Germany and the United States, according to the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.

“Tourists will visit Mogok as it is open now. But there are still security concerns in Rakhine Region. Those taking interest in gems and precious stones and the natural lovers visit Mogok for the roads to the city are beautiful and full of nature. Visitors will be interested in the place,” said Zaw Win Cho, chairperson of the tourist guides association.

“We have to apply permits for tourists who want to visit Rakhine State. There are some tourists who have been to Myanmar for three or four times. They want to visit some new places, especially Mrauk Oo. They want to see ancient pagodas there,” said Kaung Set Zaw, General Manager of Golden Express Travel Company.

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Mae Sot, southern Thailand gets connected with Myanmar cities


Golden Rock Pagoda near Mawlamyine (Photo by EMG)

Nok Air links Mae Sot on the Thai border to two Myanmar cities – Mawlamyine and Yangon – with the introduction of two new routes.

The Mae Sot-Mawlamyine route will start from September 1 while Mae Sot-Yangon flight is scheduled to commence operations in October. Tucked away in the country’s southeast, Mawlamyine is the capital of Mon State and is famous for the Golden Rock at Mt Kyaiktiyo. Yangon, of course, is former capital of Myanmar and a gateway to Myanmar’s investment and economic opportunities.

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Yangon to meet hotel standards by 2017


Governor’s Residence Hotel in Yangon (photo by

Only 1,500 to 2,000 hotel rooms in Yangon are of international standards and the city will only be able to meet room demands by 2017, according to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group.

“According to the Ministry of Tourism, there are currently 9,110 hotel rooms in Yangon. While opinion differs on which hotels are of international standard, the general consensus of our research amongst industry sources appears to be in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 rooms,” the group said.

The study is titled: Myanmar Hotel and Tourism Report: Spotlight on Yangon by Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group.

The report also highlighted that only 17 percent of hotel rooms in Yangon meet international standards. The group estimated that 5,752 rooms of international standard will be available in Yangon in 2017 while 1,000 rooms will be under proposals and 421 rooms under construction.

Major international hotels were prohibited from investing in Yangon due to economic sanctions in the past, but US and European hotel operators are now beginning to invest in Myanmar’s hotel industry as tourists begin to flock to the once-closed nation.

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