Myan­mar-Laos bor­der gate re­ceives in­ter­na­tional sta­tus

The Myanmar Times - - Business - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

THE bor­der gate be­tween Myan­mar and Laos has been up­graded and given in­ter­na­tional sta­tus, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion.

The min­istry has up­graded the Wan Pong check point in Tachilek, Shan State, mak­ing it an in­ter­na­tional bor­der en­try point for Myan­mar and Laos. It has also opened the Myan­mar-Laos Friend­ship Bridge since Septem­ber, un­der a bor­der co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with the Lao­tians.

The Myan­mar-Laos Friend­ship Bridge links Kyainglap (Kenglap) in Tachileik dis­trict and Xieng Kok in Luang Namtha, Laos.

The bor­der agree­ment will al­low cit­i­zens of the two coun­tries and third coun­try na­tional trav­el­ers to cross the bor­der be­tween Myan­mar and Laos through Wan Pong with the nec­es­sary visas or pass­ports.

The Myan­mar-Laos Friend­ship Bridge was ac­tu­ally com­pleted dur­ing the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment’s term, how­ever ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween both sides on third coun­try na­tional en­try and bor­der is­sues has taken more than three years, U Naung Naung Han, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Union of Myan­mar Travel As­so­ci­a­tion told The Myan­mar Times.

The Wan Pong check point is the sev­enth in­ter­na­tional bor­der gate where third coun­try na­tional trav­el­ers with pass­ports and visas can pass through af­ter Myawaddy, Kawthaung, Htee Khee, Tachileik, Tamu and Rikhaw­dar.

Be­fore the up­grade, cit­i­zens from the two coun­tries crossed the Myan­mar-Laos bor­der with lim­ited ac­cess.

There are also no di­rect flights be­tween Myan­mar and Laos so third coun­try trav­el­ers have to pass Thai­land ei­ther by air or land to en­ter Myan­mar. “Now we can ar­range trips for trav­el­ers from the two coun­tries with­out pass­ing through a third coun­try and tourists can also de­part through Myan­mar at the new in­ter­na­tional gate,” U Naung Naung Han said.

No­tably, Rus­sian trav­el­ers have shown in­ter­est in this new Myan­mar-Laos mar­ket and a lot of en­quiries for tour groups to pass through the Wan Pong gate have been made re­cently, he said.

“We are plan­ning two-week travel itin­er­ar­ies for tourists pass­ing through the two coun­tries,” he said.

The new route will pro­vide new op­por­tu­ni­ties for car­a­van tour op­er­a­tors in Myan­mar be­cause they can now di­rectly drive to Cam­bo­dia and Viet­nam from Myan­mar through Laos via the Wan Pong check­point, U Kyaw Min Oo, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Equal Link Tours told The Myan­mar Times.

“We had to go through the Thai bor­der be­fore. But now we are able to go where we want with­out pass­ing through Thai­land. That will be very ef­fec­tive for tourism,” he said. Each en­try into Thai­land is US$250.

The tour com­pany is al­ready plan­ning to land tours to six coun­tries in­clud­ing Laos, Thai­land, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam in 2019 as well as new itin­er­ar­ies for Laos-Myan­mar car­a­van tours.

U Aung Pyi Phyo, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Marvel­lous Mem­ory Travel and Tours said “there are now more op­por­tu­ni­ties for tourism to be de­vel­oped at the bor­der ar­eas with the open­ing of new bor­der gates and more job op­por­tu­ni­ties are also cre­ated. We can eas­ily travel to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries over land which will also im­prove trade re­la­tions.”

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