11 Jul 2012
Burmese authorities reportedly plan to extend visas-on-arrival to the Naypyitaw and Mandalay International Airports, local Burmese media said on Tuesday. It was unclear if the visa-on-arrival will apply to tourists.
Mandalay International Airport Photo: Wagaung / wikipedia
Visa-on-arrivals have reportedly been in place at Yangon International Airport since June 1, but many visitors said they were not available for tourists.
The special visas apply to visitors from 31 countries including member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, Britain, China, China's Hong Kong, plus Taiwan, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
A business visa for 70 days costs US$ 50; a tourist visa for 28 days costs $40 dollars; and a transit visa for 24 hours cost $20. Many tourists have complained that the tourist visa-on-arrival is not available at Yangon International Airport.
The number of tourist arrivals at Yangon International Airport reached 359,359 in 2011 and is expected to reach 1.5 million in 2012.
Statistics of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show that arrivals at all entry points in the country exceeded 800,000 in 2011, up more than 24,000 or 3 per cent from 2010.
There are a total of 739 hotels in Burma including 22 foreign invested hotels, four joint-venture hotels, six government hotels and 707 privately owned ones. The upper end hotels and guesthouses are rapidly expanding as Burma continues its democratic reforms.
Myanmar earned $319 million dollars in 2011 from the hotel and tourism sector, up 26 per cent from $254 million dollars in 2010.
In May, Mizzima reported that Burma is seeking renewed membership in the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
UNWTO plans to send an advisory team to assess the curriculum and teaching standards at tourism-focused education institutions, said officials.
Recently, officials have called for more low and medium-priced hotels and guesthouses. Room rates in top quality hotels have soared in recent months, from around $40 to up to $300 a room. Luxury hotels are usually booked far in advance.
Most visitors are from China, Japan, Thailand and Korea – taking into account border crossings in addition to the country's international air hub.