Myanmar has always been an attractive travel destination for tourists. However, last year tourism to Myanmar fell with 35 percent, according to Myat Mon Win of Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM).
According to Win, despite the sharp drop in numbers, Myanmar remains popular with western tourists. In recent years, the tourism sector has started recovering again.
Less western tourists
In 2018, the number of western tourists headed to Myanmar dropped with 35 percent. However, in January 2019, this had already been reduced to a mere five percent, according to Win. This is a clear indication that this sector is picking itself back up. Travel bureaus have also reported an increase in booked trips to Myanmar.
This increase in tourism can be directly attributed to efforts by the country at the ITB Berlin, the fair for international travel. During this campaign, Myanmar Tourism Marketing outlined nine reasons to visit Myanmar. The focus was on the natural beauty of the country. For instance, few travellers have visited Kyaing Tong, Likaw or Mogok. Myanmar urged travellers to explore these relatively less-known areas.
More than just a cultural destination
The minister of Hotels and Tourism, Ohn Maung, explained that the country isn’t just a cultural destination, and that there is far more to enjoy than just the ‘classic four’. With the ‘classic four’ are meant regions where the most tourists go to each year. These are Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. In recent years, more tourists arrived from Scandinavian countries. The minister noted that this is a niche market. These types of tourists generally go to the country for diving activities.
Other European travellers are also visiting Myanmar in growing numbers, for instance from Poland and the Czech Republic. More and more visa on arrivals are applied for from these countries. British travellers are advised to not apply for a visa on arrival, but to apply for an online Myanmar visa.
Easier to travel to Myanmar
The minister of Hotels and Tourism has also announced that they will look into simplifying the visa application process for Myanmar. For instance, they might increase the period with which tourists can stay in the country on a visa, or remove the need for a visa altogether for shorter stays. The minister sees this as an investment into the tourism of the country. It is as of yet unclear which countries specifically will fall under these new regulations.
In the meantime, it is still mandatory to apply for a visa. Applying for a Myanmar visa can be easily done online and costs £69,95 per person.
The Scandinavian countries are currently investigating whether it is is possible to offer more flights to Ngapali. Other countries are also looking into offering flights to destinations such as Kawthaung, Dawei, Heho and Pakkuko.
Myanmar visa application
All travellers headed to Myanmar must possess their own valid Myanmar visa, Only inhabitants of Myanmar or those that hold a Myanmar passport are exempt from this. This also means that underage children require a visa. For many years, it has been possible to submit a Myanmar e-visa application. That’s why it is no longer necessary to visit the Myanmar embassy.
The Myanmar visa is a so-called e-visa. This means that after approval, the electronic travel document is sent by e-mail. You are not sent an actual visa, but rather a letter of approval. This letter states that the traveller is authorized to travel to the country and will be granted entrance. The actual visa is granted at the passport check. This visa is then stamped on to the passport. No extra payments need to be made at the airport. All costs are included in the online application.
Urgent Myanmar visa application
The Myanmar visa is generally granted within seven days. Did you forget to apply for a visa and you’re leaving in less than seven days? You can also submit an urgent application. These special applications are often granted within 24 hours and cost £15,00 extra per person. It is therefore recommended to apply for your visa on time.