The junta, Myanmarʼs military government, has announced that the country will once again welcome international flights from 17 April. The business e-visa application is available since 1 April.
Prolonged border closure
Myanmarʼs borders have been closed to international travellers for more than two years now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Exceptions have only been made for a limited group of travellers, such as Myanmar citizens returning home. It is still unclear how serious the pandemic has been in Myanmar. Like other countries, Myanmar experienced several waves of infection, the worst occurring in the summer months of 2021. Since then, infection rates have declined rapidly. However, for several regions, it is difficult to determine the exact number of infections and deaths due to Covid-19. This mainly concerns the border areas in the north and west, such as Kachin State and Rakhine State.
The prolonged border closure is also a consequence of the February 2021 coup. Since the takeover, the military government has been violently opposing local groups wanting to restore democracy.
Borders open from 17 April
Despite the unrest in the country, the government thinks it is time to open its borders to tourists and business travellers. As of 17 April, international flights will be allowed again. According to the junta, the Covid-19 figures have decreased rapidly in the recent months, partly because of the high vaccination rate: in a country of 55 million people, 47 million shots have now been administered. The military governmentʼs announcement is due in part to the success of the Myancopharm vaccines, produced locally in cooperation with China.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, tourism was an important part of Myanmarʼs economy. The military government hopes to get the tourism sector going again throughout the year as a necessity for the economy. Many investors have withdrawn from Myanmar because of the coup, further worsening the countryʼs economic situation.
Visa rules still unclear
There is still much ambiguity around the governmentʼs announcement. What is certain is that travellers must be fully vaccinated to travel to Myanmar, but it still unclear what Myanmar means by “full vaccination”. Under current rules, travellers must take a PCR test before departure and spend seven days quarantining upon arrival in Myanmar. During the quarantine period, two more tests are taken. If both tests are negative, one may end the quarantine.
The business e-visas can be requested since 1 April. However, it is still unclear if and when the tourism e-visa will be available. It is also not yet known whether it will be possible to obtain a visa on arrival at the Myanmar Airport. The military government has not yet announced any changes around the tourism visas. Under the current conditions, one may stay in Myanmar for up to 28 days on the tourism e-visa. The visa may be used for one trip to Myanmar. A new visa must be requested for each trip.
The military government has also not yet announced which airlines will offer flights to the country. Currently, only Myanmar Airways International flies to and from Rangoon International Airport. When neighbouring Vietnam announced back in February that the borders were reopening to tourists, there was a huge increase in bookings for international flights to the country. For Myanmar, this is not yet the case. On the websites of most airlines it is not yet possible to book a flight to Myanmar. The UK government also advises citizens not to travel there. As long as the unrest in the country continues, it remains to be seen how many tourists will fly to the country once the borders open.