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Myanmar Sees 30 Percent Increase in Tourism During First Four Months of 2019
AUTHOR: ZIN THU TUN
The number of tourists coming into Myanmar during the first four months of this year has risen by 30 percent over the same period last year. This information was shared by U Ohn Maung, Union Minister of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, at a press conference held to explain what the government has accomplished during its third year.
During the period encompassing January-April 2018, the number of tourists entering Myanmar by land, sea, and air amounted to 500,000. During the same January-April period of 2019, that figure rose to 650,000.
Through the entire 2018 calendar year, some 3.55 million tourists came to Myanmar, an increase of 0.11 percent compared over the 2017 figures, which saw 3.44 million visitors.
Minister U Ohn Maung added: “We are working on extending the visa-free and entrance visa programs for another year; these programs were granted to certain countries in October of last year.”
With the goal of boosting tourism, on October 1, 2018, the government launched a one-year visa-free program for travelers from South Korea and Japan, enabling people from those nations to visit Myanmar without requiring visa applications. Positive results quickly followed. Seeing the improvement in numbers, the Ministry decided to extend the program for another year. Now it is also planning to extend a visa-free program for travelers from some European countries.
Along with the visa-free programs for the two countries mentioned above, Myanmar also granted an arrival visa program for travelers from Hong Kong, Macau, and China. Instead of applying for visas in advance, travelers from these counties can pay $50 for visas upon arrival at airports like Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypidaw.
Visa-free travel is also permitted for those entering the country from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, those who have a diplomatic or official service passport from the nations of Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam do not require a visa to enter Myanmar.
Meanwhile, citizens of Myanmar can also visit 14 countries without having a visa, can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airports of 26 countries, or can apply for e-visas in 17 countries.
All of these programs are without a doubt having a positive effect, as most of the tourists to Myanmar are from countries with the visa-free program – such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. However, Myanmar received fewer tourists when compared with neighboring countries such as Thailand, which receives about 38 million tourists annually.
Clearly, there is still plenty of room for these figures to expand. How can the government help improve the numbers of tourists? The Union Minister said: “We will draft a master plan to encourage tourism, which will cover the tourism sectors of the entire country. We will collaborate with regions, states, and civil organizations.”
On top of this, on April 10, 2019, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism launched its new web site, www.tourism.gov.mm. It features tourist destinations and attractions that will, it is hoped, promote the country’s national tourism industry.
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