After a very turbulent year, the current Myanmar government has announced its intention to reactivate international tourism in the country. Currently, Western travellers need a visa to travel to Myanmar.
A difficult year for Myanmar
Like most countries in the world, Myanmar is struggling with COVID-19. The country is suffering the consequences of a recent outbreak of the delta variant last summer. Myanmarʼs healthcare system was already not in the best condition before the coronavirus, and the pandemic has only made the situation worse. The total number of infections in Myanmar stands at 490,008, resulting in 18,416 deaths. However, there is concern that the government is unable to properly register all COVID-19 cases in the country, which leads to an underreporting of cases. Especially in the border areas, health care is not up to standard.
Myanmar wants to open its borders in 2022
According to official figures, the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Myanmar is declining rapidly. On Tuesday 19 October, there were 1,133 new cases of COVID-19 reported in 24 hours. This is far lower than those recorded at the peak of the delta variant outbreak in July, when more than 5,000 cases were reported daily on average. Partly because of this, and also because according to the government, the security situation in the country has improved significantly, the Myanmar government believes that the time has come to reopen the country to tourism. Myanmar has already relaxed its domestic policy regarding the coronavirus. For example, interprovincial travel is again permitted and lockdowns have been lifted in many areas.
Initially, Myanmar will target travellers from other Asian countries, including neighbouring Thailand and Laos. It is hoped that tourism from China in particular will greatly increase. Myanmarʼs Minister of Hotels and Tourism, Htay Aung, said that the government is currently concluding travel agreements with neighbouring countries. These will make travel between these countries much easier as of 2022. The reopening will take place in phases. Myanmar hopes to welcome around 300,000 foreign tourists in the first phase. This number will be gradually increased.
Travel to Myanmar for Western tourists
Myanmarʼs government plans are focused almost exclusively on the Asian market. The government has not yet announced much about the possibilities for Western tourists to travel to the country. For the time being, the British governmentʼs advice is "do not travel". The colour code for Myanmar is partly red and partly orange. Especially the eastern border areas are considered unsafe.
At present, a visa is required for a trip to Myanmar. You can apply for a visa Myanmar online, after which it will be sent by e-mail. Whether there will be changes regarding the visa requirements for Myanmar is not yet known. For example, India has already made significant changes to the visa regulations for tourists. However, the Myanmar government has not yet made any announcements in this regard.