Govt eases visa rules for China, Ja­pan and South Korea

Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio an­nounces the eas­ing of visa reg­u­la­tions for visi­tors from China, Ja­pan and South Korea in a bid to en­tice more tourists.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­

THE govern­ment hopes to en­tice more visi­tors from Ja­pan, South Korea and China by eas­ing visa reg­u­la­tions for trav­el­ers from these coun­tries, which have been the main source of for­eign tourists for the coun­try in re­cent years.

At­tend­ing the Myan­mar Tourism Con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw on Tues­day, Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio an­nounced the loos­en­ing of visa pro­ce­dures for the three coun­tries, but did not pro­vide de­tails.

The vice pres­i­dent said Thai­land, China, Ja­pan and South Korea shore up the coun­try’s tourism sec­tor af­ter a de­cline in the num­ber of Euro­pean tourists due to the humanitarian crisis in north­ern Rakhine State.

U Henry Van Thio urged tourism stake­hold­ers to take ad­van­tage of the 42 per­cent rise in in­tra-ASEAN trav­ellers.

The num­ber of in­ter­na­tional tourists ASEAN coun­tries re­ceived in 2016 jumped from 115 mil­lion to 125 mil­lion in 2017, he said.

“We should do more to at­tract re­gional visi­tors from ASEAN coun­tries to Myan­mar,” said U Henry Van Thio.

He stressed the im­por­tance of hav­ing enough funds for Myan­mar busi­nesses to par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­na­tional tourism ex­pos to lure more visi­tors, and said that se­cur­ing the funds would be a chal­lenge.

“As the govern­ment is mak­ing ef­forts for multi-lat­eral de­vel­op­ment, there would be dif­fi­culty in bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of tourism,” U Henry Van Thio said, while call­ing for co­op­er­a­tion among do­mes­tic pri­vate tour busi­nesses in tack­ling chal­lenges.

He said lo­cal busi­nesses in the sec­tor should ad­just the prices they charge for ser­vices such as ho­tels and trans­porta­tion to en­sure they are not higher than the in­ter­na­tional rate, while en­sur­ing that the ser­vices are worth the money tourists are spend­ing.

The high cost of traveling in Myan­mar has been a fac­tor that hin­ders tourism due to the air­line in­dus­try’s ex­clu­sive busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and a crip­pling in­ter­nal in­fra­struc­ture and lo­gis­tics.

U Kyaw Min Htin, joint sec­re­tary of the Myan­mar Tourism Fed­er­a­tion, told the con­fer­ence that ho­tel prices and air trans­porta­tion costs are still higher than in other coun­tries.

Be­cause of the high cost of tour­ing in Myan­mar, “air­lines might be less in­ter­ested in set­ting up a direct flights to the coun­try”, said Daw Su Su Tin, an ad­viser at Myan­mar Tourism Mar­ket­ing.

The Union of Myan­mar Travel As­so­ci­a­tion sub­mit­ted to the con­fer­ence six crit­i­cal is­sues that the tourism sec­tor has strug­gled with, in­clud­ing dou­ble tax­a­tion, lack of vo­ca­tional train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion in tourism, tourism busi­ness chal­lenges, and in­vest­ment pol­icy and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Call­ing for co­op­er­a­tion be­tween govern­ment and busi­nesses in the travel in­dus­try, U Henry Van Thio sug­gested they work to­gether un­der “pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship” schemes.

“If we could sell Myan­mar’s na­tional brand and image, I am sure we will see more in­ter­na­tional visi­tors while up­lift­ing our na­tion’s rep­u­ta­tion,” he said.

U Htin Kyaw, Myan­mar’s for­mer pres­i­dent, and his wife Daw Su Su Lwin at­tended the con­fer­ence as spe­cial guests.

Since the vi­o­lence erupted in Rakhine in 2016, Myan­mar has faced in­tense in­ter­na­tional pres­sure over al­leged hu­man rights abuses, which re­sulted in the de­cline of tourist ar­rivals from West­ern coun­tries.

Photo: Ei Ei Thu

For­mer pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw (left) and Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio chat dur­ing the con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw on Tues­day.

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