Oct 6, 2014

Myanmar add more countries to e-visa list

Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has asked the tourism sector to identify nationalities that should be added to the list of 43 states that use the e-visa facility.
It is the first time that the government has sought private sector input on the visa rules and procedures.
The e-visa was launched, 1 September.
Introducing e-visas is a part of a wider plan to phase out visas-on-arrival by March 2015, which is cumbersome and requires pre-arrival paperwork. Officials believe that an efficient e-visa system would make the visa-on-arrival redundant.
Eleven Myanmar news quoted unnamed tourism executives, who stated that had been advised the list should be extended to all countries that have strong and cordial diplomatic relations.
Sources said the old system of pre-arranged visas with pick-up at the Yangon’s international airport will be phased out once all the e-visa teething problems have been solved.
“If the visa-on-arrival system was  withdrawn before the e-visa system works well, it would become inconvenient for visitors,” a tourism company executive told the news channel.
More promotion and information on how the e-visa works needs to be posted to ensure travellers are aware of the new service.
No details were given on the proposed extension of the e-visa country list. It will probably be updated with more countries, most likely those that do not have a Myanmar embassy to make it convenient for citizens and end the need to travel to a third country to file their application at the nearest embassy.
Many Myanmar-bound travellers visit Bangkok first to get a visa, although they usually combine the two countries in their holiday itinerary and their travel agency processes the visa while they are touring in Thailand.
The e-visa costs USD50 and is valid for 28 days for visitors arriving via Yangon International Airport. For other airport checkpoints and all overland border checkpoints, travellers must first apply for a visa at the nearest embassy or consulate.
Tourists must file their application on the Ministry of Immigration and Population’s website. It takes one week for the ministry to check the visa application. Once it has been approved, the ministry sends an official confirmation by email that the traveller can proceed with their travel arrangement to the country.
Once the traveller arrives in Yangon they must present a printout of the approval along with their passports at Yangon International Airport. They will also have to show the approval letter to airlines when boarding flights to Yangon.
The most important development for the e-visa would be extending its use to other airport arrival checkpoints used by international travellers, such as Nay Pyi Daw, Mandalay and Bagan, rather than limiting to Yangon.
It should also be applicable for travellers who visit North Thailand and want to enter Myanmar through the Mae Sai border checkpoint and then connect with flights at Tachilek airport which is just a few km inside Myanmar. It would help to establish the far north airport as an international gateway for travellers who want to combine North Thailand tours with trips to Mandalay or Bagan in Myanmar. That would save the need to back track to Bangkok to connect with flights to Yangon a costly diversion for visitors who are in North Thailand.

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