Myanmar grants free visas for Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans as visitor numbers dwindle

Sunset over Mandalay © Arno Maierbrugger

Myanmar will grant free visa allowances to Chinese, South Korean and Japanese nationals from August 1 onwards in a bid to promote eco-tourism, U Ohn Maung, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, announced, according to the Myanmar Times.

The move comes after tourism to Myanmar has taken a hit from dwindling visitors from the West who have scaled down travel to the country in view of the refugee crisis in Rakhine. It also coincides with the enforcement of the new Myanmar Companies Law on August 1, which will enable foreign investors to own up to 30 per cent in the shares of local companies and grant investors up to seven years of tax free operations.

“In the tourism industry in Myanmar, free visas provide the best environment for new investments because the new law has given opportunities to foreign investors. There are also natural resources such as coral reefs which can attract tourism investments,” U Ohn Maung said.

For example, UK tourist arrivals in Myanmar are down 40 per cent compared to 2017, statistics show.

Tour operators and hotels are considering other cost-cutting measures to cope with the declining income, as most UK travel companies are no longer selling travel packages to Myanmar, while the market demand from France is weak, said U Phyo Wai Yar Zar, an adviser of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association.

On the other hand, the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Mandalay has increased this year, according to the region’s Directorate of Hotels and Tourism. The Chinese ranked first in the list of visitors to Mandalay in the first half of this year, assistant director U San Yu was quoted by state media as saying.

The government is expecting tourist arrivals from China, South Korea and Japan to pick up during the second half of the year after the visa allowances are implemented though. In total, it is expecting some 500,000 visitors to Mandalay alone this year.

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Sunset over Mandalay © Arno Maierbrugger

Myanmar will grant free visa allowances to Chinese, South Korean and Japanese nationals from August 1 onwards in a bid to promote eco-tourism, U Ohn Maung, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, announced, according to the Myanmar Times.

Sunset over Mandalay © Arno Maierbrugger

Myanmar will grant free visa allowances to Chinese, South Korean and Japanese nationals from August 1 onwards in a bid to promote eco-tourism, U Ohn Maung, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, announced, according to the Myanmar Times.

The move comes after tourism to Myanmar has taken a hit from dwindling visitors from the West who have scaled down travel to the country in view of the refugee crisis in Rakhine. It also coincides with the enforcement of the new Myanmar Companies Law on August 1, which will enable foreign investors to own up to 30 per cent in the shares of local companies and grant investors up to seven years of tax free operations.

“In the tourism industry in Myanmar, free visas provide the best environment for new investments because the new law has given opportunities to foreign investors. There are also natural resources such as coral reefs which can attract tourism investments,” U Ohn Maung said.

For example, UK tourist arrivals in Myanmar are down 40 per cent compared to 2017, statistics show.

Tour operators and hotels are considering other cost-cutting measures to cope with the declining income, as most UK travel companies are no longer selling travel packages to Myanmar, while the market demand from France is weak, said U Phyo Wai Yar Zar, an adviser of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association.

On the other hand, the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Mandalay has increased this year, according to the region’s Directorate of Hotels and Tourism. The Chinese ranked first in the list of visitors to Mandalay in the first half of this year, assistant director U San Yu was quoted by state media as saying.

The government is expecting tourist arrivals from China, South Korea and Japan to pick up during the second half of the year after the visa allowances are implemented though. In total, it is expecting some 500,000 visitors to Mandalay alone this year.

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