Monthly Archives: September 2014

More visas issued at Yangon Airport

Myanmar’s Department of Immigration says more than 70,000 visitors obtained visas-on-arrival at Yangon International Airport during the first eight months of the year.

According to the department, from January to August, this year, 74,503 foreign visitors entered the country on visas-on-arrival at country’s main aviation gateway.

Chinese nationals topped the list with Japanese nationals  second, local news channels reported.

Tourists and business visas are available on arrival, but there considerable restrictions.

Most airlines will not allow passengers to fly to Yangon without a visa, or documents entitling them to apply for a business visa-on-arrival.

Myanmar began issuing business visas-on-arrival for nationals from 26 countries, 1 June 2012 and expanded the list to include nationals from another 22 countries – mostly European countries – 1 February 2013.

From 1 June 2013 to August 31, this year, at least 130,000 visitors obtained visas- on-arrival, immigration data shows.

They are not technically visas-on-arrival, but more akin to a pre-arranged visa that has undergone security clearance ahead of the trip and then endorsed at the airport, when the passenger arrives.

A visa-on-arrivals suggests that no advance preparation is required. The visitor simply arrives at the airport, fills out the documentation and is given a visa at an airport counter after paying a fee.

Myanmar also introduced an e-visa scheme 1 September. The e-visa is now open to tourists from 41 countries, including Southeast Asian nations, but not all EU countries are on the list.

The system is open to tourists visiting the country, but not currently available for those on business or social visits. Journalists need a special visa if they are on a working visit.

The entry permit will cost USD50 and be valid for 28 days for visitors arriving via Yangon International Airport. For other airport checkpoints and all overland border checkpoints, travellers must first apply for a visa at the nearest embassy or consulate.

For the e-visa, tourists will need to file their application on the Ministry of Immigration and Population’s website. It will take one week for the ministry to check out the visa application. Once it has been approved, the ministry will send an official confirmation by email that the traveller can proceed with their travel arrangement to the country. It takes around two more working days to approve online than when compared to a visa application through an embassy.

Once the traveller  arrives in Yangon they must present a printout of the approval along with their passports at Yangon International Airport. They will also have to show the approval letter to airlines when boarding flights to Yangon.

The e-visa programme is part of its Myanmar Tourism Master Plan (2013 to 2020), which comprises of 38 projects. Implementation of the plan is expected to cost USD486 million. The returns could be significant if projections for tourist arrivals meet targets.

Source : TTR Weekly

Land routes to Thailand proving popular with tourists

More than 60,000 people have entered Myanmar through border gates along the border with Thailand in the year since they became official international points of entry and exit, according to the Ministry of Immigration and Population.

The number refers to those using passports and visas rather than border passes and temporary border passes, an official at the ministry said. Ministry of Immigration and Population said, adding that tourists were now using land routes to enter Myanmar.

Myanmar has signed memoranda of understanding with four of its five neighbouring countries to allow residents on each side of the border to cross back and forth with either a border pass or temporary border pass. India is the only country it has yet to sign such an agreement with.

On August 28 last year, four border gates along the border with Thailand – Techileik-Maesai, Myawady-Maesuk, Kawthaung-Ranaung and Hteekhee-Phunaron – were upgraded to international points of entry and exit.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Visas on arrival getting more popular at Yangon International Airport

More than 70,000 visitors obtained visas on arrival at Yangon International Airport during the first eight months of the year, according to the immigration department.

“From January to August of this year, a total of 74,503 foreign visitors entered the country with visas on arrival at Yangon International Airport,” an immigration spokesperson said. “Chinese nationals topped the list with Japanese nationals coming second.”

Tourists and business visas are available on arrival, but there are some restrictions. Most airlines will not allow passengers to fly to Yangon without a visa, or documents entitling them to apply for a business visa on arrival.  Myanmar began issuing business visas on arrival for nationals from 26 countries on June 1 2012, and expanded the list to include nationals from another 22 countries – mostly European countries – on February 1, 2013.

From June 1, 2013 to August 31 of this year, at least 130,000 visitors obtained visas on arrival, immigration data shows.

Myanmar also introduced an e-visa scheme on September 1.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Japanese to fund Kayin State, Myanmar cable car

The Zwekapin cable car project in Kayin State will proceed as planned, thanks to the promise of a loan from Japanese individuals.

The project representative, Sayadaw Badanda Kawida Zak, told Myanmar Eleven news that a high-ranking Japanese official as well as some shareholders of Toshiba Corp will visit this month and finalise a loan to underwrite the project.

“They are ready to loan us up to USD13 million to complete the project,” the head monk explained to the news channel.

Unveiled earlier in the year, the project remained just a proposal due to the lack of funding. A charity concert was hosted in May to raise donations, but the event failed to reach its financial target.

Supporters say the cable car will facilitate pilgrims and travellers to Zwekapin Mountain, where Zwekapin Pagoda is located at a height of 2,734 feet above sea level. The area in Hpa-an, the capital city of Kayin State, is famous for its greenery and critics of the project are concerned that it will cause over crowding and is not in the best interests of serious worshippers who go to the pagoda.

But supporters claim it will be good for tourism and that at present is an argument that silences opposition.

Construction will be handled by Malaysia-based engineering firm SMET Sdn Bhd, with assistance from a local company, San Tit Co. Soil testing and cable design is already completed.

The head monk said that wind turbines would be used to generate electricity, which would reduce operational costs.

“The Japanese said they loan us the money for 30 years,” the monk added. “Now, we have collected MMK3 billion (USD3,076,950) in donations. We still welcome more donations. I will push forward this project for sure.”

Kayin State’s capital city is Hpa-an sometimes called Pa-An.

The state is bordered by Mae Hong Son, Tak, and Kanchanaburi provinces in Thailand to the east; Mon State and Bago Region to the west and south; Mandalay Region, Shan State and Kayah State to the north.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanmar airlines mull CNX flights

Two privately owned Myanmar airlines, Shwe Myanmar Airlines and Air KBZ, intend to start services from Yangon to Chiang Mai in North Thailand over the next two months.

According to a Myanmar Eleven news report, the two airlines claim travel demand between the two cities would justify the new services.

The report quoted unnamed executives of Shwe Myanmar Airlines saying that the Yangon-Chiang Mai route would start as early as 23 September with three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. A one-way fare would be USD59.

But the airline has yet to launch promotions, or efforts to tap Chiang Mai’s travel agencies to support a new service and the sole service offered by Air Bagan on the route is struggling, even with just two flights a week.

Meanwhile, Air KBZ general manager, Myat Thu, declined to give details of its flight plans, or the exact dates for a proposed service to Chiang Mai.

However, he said that besides flights to Chiang Mai the carrier would also open a route between Yangon and Mae Sot, in west Thailand.

“We are teaming up with Mann Yadanarpon Airlines to offer a Yangon-Chiang Mai route and a Yangon-Mae Sot route. We will start the services in November.”

Currently, Air Bagan is the only Myanmar airline with a Yangon-Chiang Mai route. The route has two flights weekly.

Source : TTR Weekly

Myanmar in a mood to ease travel

Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi confirmed, Wednesday, Myanmar will continue to hold talks with four ASEAN countries  (Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore)  to waive visa requirements to boost two-way travel.

The minister told local media  that under the ASEAN common visa scheme, Myanmar nationals should soon be able to visit all the other nine countries, of ASEAN without requiring a visa.

He said the entire ASEAN bloc should be visa-free in terms of Myanmar by 2015.

“We are working with other ASEAN foreign ministers,” he said.

At present, Myanmar has reciprocal visa-free pacts with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam. The bilateral agreements allow citizens  14-day visa-free stays. There is no provision for extending the visa’s length of stay or widening it to include business travel. It is also applicable only fo airline travel.

The ASEAN common visa would help develop two-way travel between the 10-member countries. Myanmar is the sole remaining member that has still to ratify visa-free stays for citizens of Brunei, Singapore Thailand and Malaysia.

Myanmar is hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum, 22 to 29 January ,2015, at the close of the country’s year-long chairmanship of the 10-nation bloc. It hopes to have the visa-free stay subject up and running for all member countries before it vacates the chair. In late January it hands over  to the Philippines to chair the group for a year.

Myanmar  will also be the host to usher in the ASEAN Economic Community January 2015. AEC will mark a new free-trade era with easier travel facilitation viewed as an important component to make it a success.

Thailand and Myanmar were supposed to sign off on the agreement at last December’s SEA Games, held in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

However,  former Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, cancelled her trip to the Games resulting in the postponement of the final round of talks and the signing ceremony. It is now up to the new Thai government, led by prime minister General Prayuth Chan-Orcha, to engage in talks to conclude visa-free travel rules with Myanmar.

To promote tourism, Myanmar introduced an e-visa scheme, 1 September. Only tourists flying to Yangon can apply for the e-visa. It costs USD50, takes a week to gain approval and can be paid for online using a visa card.

Source : TTR Weekly

Dutch agency to help develop tourism in Kayah State

CBI

The Kyat Cave in Kayah State is one of its major draws for tourists. (Photo-Aung Zaw Tun/EMG)

A Dutch agency that helps developing countries gain access to the European market will provide US$1.9 million to help develop the tourism industry in Kayah State, according to commerce ministry adviser Dr Maung Aung.

He was referring to the Center for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), which operates under the Netherlands’ ministry of foreign affairs, and has been providing technical training and funding to three sectors of Myanmar’s economy: fisheries, garments and tourism.

“CBI is now surveying Kayah State to develop its tourism industry,” Maung Aung said, adding that the state could prosper from an increase in tourism. CBI is also providing tourism training courses and technical assistance, he said.

The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Hotels and Tourism are developing the tourism-development project in tandem with CBI and the International Trade Center.

The aim of the project to add Kayah State as a new destination for foreign visitors to the country, the number of which has surged over the past three years.

CBI has identified tourism as a key industry for Myanmar’s development and said it aims to assist the rural population to reap some of the benefits of the surge in visitors by promoting sustainable and community-based tourism. The agency is connecting the Myanmar travel association with established networks and operators in Europe.

Kayah State has potential for tourism due to its proximity to Thailand and its rugged mountainous terrain, which includes deep caves as well as waterfalls, tour agents say. Large parts of the state, however, remain contaminated with landmines and a massive de-mining effort will be required to make it safe for tourists, as well as its residents, de-mining experts have said.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar to extend e-visa to EU countries soon: Minister

Minister of Immigration and Population Khin Yi says the recently introduced online e-visa will soon be extended to member countries of European Union at a press conference held on Sep 1 at Park Royal Hotel in Yangon.

The e-visa is now open to tourists from 41 countries, including Southeast Asian countries.

Myanmar’s Tour Operators Association requested at the conference that the e-visa be extended to EU countries as scores of tourists from EU countries have visited the country and there are more potential tourists to come from those countries.

Upon the request, the minister replied that the e-visa is soon to be open to Belgium, Netherlands and Poland among EU countries.

The ministry also says the number of countries open to the e-visa will be increased.

The system is open to tourists visiting the country and currently not available for those on business and social visits.

As the process improves, we will extend it, he added.

The entry permit will cost US$50 and be valid for 28 days to those arriving in the country.

Source : Eleven Myanmar