ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Myanmar in a mood to ease travel
By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit
YANGON, 11 September 2014: Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi says Myanmar has started talks with other ASEAN countries to waive visa requirements to boost two-way travel.
The minister told local media, earlier this week, that under the ASEAN common visa scheme, Myanmar nationals should be able to enter the other other nine countries, of ASEAN without requiring a visa.
There are still some ASEAN countries that have not agreed on terms, but he said the entire ASEAN bloc should be visa-free in terms of Myanmar quite soon.
“We are working with other ASEAN foreign ministers,” he said.
At present, Myanmar has reciprocal visa-free pacts with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam that allows 14-day free visa stays for tourists. There is no provision for extending the visa at present and it is limited to leisure travel.
To promote tourism, Myanmar introduced an e-visa scheme, 1 September. Only tourists can apply for the visa electronically.
The ASEAN common visa would help develop two-way travel between the 10-member countries. Myanmar is the last remaining member that has still to ratify visa-free stays for citizens of Brunei, Singapore Thailand and Malaysia.
Myanmar is hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum, 22 to 29 January 2015, at the close of the country’s year-long chairmanship of the 10-nation bloc.
One of Myanmar’s objectives is to round off its chairmanship by meeting the principle of visa-free travel for all countries.
Myanmar will also usher in the ASEAN Economic Community January 2015, in its capacity as chair. It will start a new free-trade era and easy travel facilitation is viewed as an important component to make it a success.
Thailand and Myanmar were supposed to sign off on the agreement at last December’s SEA Games, held in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
However, former Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, cancelled her trip to the Games resulting in the postponement of the final round of talks and the signing ceremony. It is now up to the new Thai government led by prime minister General Prayuth Chan-Orcha to engage in talks to conclude visa-free travel rules with Myanmar.
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