Visa-free travel to Myanmar for ASEAN by 2015

Shwezigon Pagoda, Myanmar

BY THE end of this year, travellers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei should be able to visit Myanmar without the need for visas.

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, U Htay Aung, union minister, Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, said: “We have been doing it step by step. We have finalised visa-free arrangements with Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and most recently, the Philippines (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 8, 2014).”

Bilateral agreements with the rest of the ASEAN countries would be hammered out by this year, he added.
Visa facilitation was also one of the issues raised during the ASEAN tourism ministers’ meeting this year, according to Indonesia’s minister of tourism and creative economy, Mari Elka Pangestu.

ASEAN is moving towards the full implementation of a visa-exemption regime for ASEAN nationals travelling within the region, with the aim of extending a single visa to foreign tourists.

She said: “Visa facilitation in ASEAN is not bad (compared to the rest of the world), but there is still a lot of homework to be done, especially for the common visa (for non-ASEAN nationals).

“There was an evaluation (during the meeting) and (the results) were far from satisfactory.”

Mari urged for closer cooperation between other government sectors. “Transportation, infrastructure and connectivity will also determine how seamless travel will be,” she said. “Tourism ministers need to have a forum with the ministers of transportation, immigration and other related sectors.”

As ASEAN’s tourism sector has achieved 75 per cent of the measures for 2013 in the 2011-2015 ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan, it is also imperative that the bloc start nailing down post-2015 plans, said Mari.

Read more from ATF 2014 in TTG Official Show Daily – ATF 2014

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