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Industry proposes reducing visa restrictions for western tourists

Discussions will be made with the relevant departments to reduce visa restrictions on western travelers, said U Yan Win, chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation.

The move comes after the government last year approved visa exemptions for tourists from Japan, China and South Korea in a bid draw more Asian travelers to Myanmar.

“Granting visa exemptions for western countries will be very supportive for the tourism industry. There should be less travel restrictions for visitors from the west who are more inclined to visit Myanmar,” said U Yan Win.

Earlier this month, tourism groups proposed granting visas on arrival for tourists from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland but have not received a reply from the government yet, according to Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association.

Currently, visa on arrival arrangements are available for more than 50 countries at the international airports of Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. The tourists are allowed to stay in Myanmar for 28 days.

Tourists from China, Japan and South Korea have increased significantly since the government relaxed its visa restrictions for those countries in October last year, said U Naung Naung Han, Secretary of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of visitors from China and Korea after the relaxation of visa rules. So we can safely assume that even more people will come to Myanmar if the visa rules are relaxed for more countries. But in the case of the visas for westerners, it also depends on the country’s policies or if any sanctions are in place,” said U Naung Naung Han.

Visitors to Myanmar from Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Poland normally stay 14 days on average, and they are also the visitors who spend the largest amount of money on their visits.

Notably, they also follow the rules of the country and leave a less negative impact on the environment compared to other nationalities, travel agents said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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