Travelling to Myanmar soon? The visa process just got easier if you have a Hong Kong passport, but it’s also more expensive

The Myanmar government has resumed its visa-on-arrival service for Hong Kong passport holders, which was cancelled five years ago.

Hongkongers going to visit the southeast Asian country can apply for a tourist visa upon arrival at its three international airports.

The new arrangement will take effect on Monday, and Hong Kong passport holders may apply for a tourist visa for a stay of 30 days upon arrival at Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport, or Nay Pyi Taw International Airport of Myanmar.

“HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] passport holders are advised to consult the Consulate General of Myanmar in Hong Kong for detailed information before travelling,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Previously, Hongkongers visiting Myanmar were required to apply for a tourist visa through the consulate in the city. The process took three working days, cost HK$320 (US$40), and the visa was valid for three months from its date of issuance.

While no official announcement has been made, the fee for applying for a visa on arrival will reportedly be US$50 for travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The return to a visa-on-arrival service comes after it was withdrawn in 2013, when visitors from China, Britain, and the United States also had the ability to apply when they landed removed.

The latest move is an effort to promote tourism and attract foreigners to the country, according to an earlier statement made by the Myanmar government.

But Alex Lee Chun-tung, general manager of Hong Kong travel agency Miramar Travel, questioned its effectiveness for Hongkongers.

“Very few local people pick Myanmar as a travel spot, as they are unfamiliar with the country,” Lee said, adding that the number of local tours by agencies setting off for Myanmar was small, with mostly couples and singles joining.

However, he noted that Myanmar was relatively popular among expats and international schools, which he said had arranged study tours to the country.

He believed the relaxation of the visa application would not do much to boost tourist numbers from Hong Kong, as there were many more choices where travellers were granted visa-free access.

Myanmar had 3.44 million visitors in 2017, up from 2.9 million in 2016.

Alongside Myanmar, 163 countries or territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to Hong Kong passport holders.

In terms of convenience of travel, a Hong Kong passport is ranked 16th in the world, according to the 2018 Henley Passport Index.

Japan has replaced Singapore at the top spot, with its citizens granted visa-free travel to a record 189 destinations.

SOURCE: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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