NAY PYI DAW, Myanmar The Myanmar government hopes to entice more visitors from Japan, South Korea and China by easing visa regulations for travellers from these countries, which have been the main source of foreign tourists for the country in recent years, the Myanmar Times reported.

Attending the Myanmar Tourism Conference in Nay Pyi Taw, its Vice President U Henry Van Thio announced the loosening of visa procedures for the three countries, but did not provide details.

The vice president said Thailand, China, Japan and South Korea shore up the country’s tourism sector after a decline in the number of European tourists due to the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine state.

Since the violence erupted in Rakhine in 2016, Myanmar has faced intense international pressure over alleged human rights abuses, which resulted in the decline of tourist arrivals from Western countries.

U Henry Van Thio urged tourism stakeholders to take advantage of the 42 per cent rise in intra-ASEAN travellers.

The number of international tourists ASEAN countries received in 2016 jumped from 115 million to 125 million in 2017, he added.

U Henry Van Thio stressed the importance of having enough funds for Myanmar businesses to participate in international tourism expos to lure more visitors, and said that securing the funds would be a challenge.

As the government is making efforts for multi-lateral development, there would be difficulty in budget allocation for the development of tourism, he said, while calling for cooperation among domestic private tour businesses in tackling challenges.

He said local businesses in the sector should adjust the prices they charge for services such as hotels and transportation to ensure they are not higher than the international rate, while ensuring that the services are worth the money tourists are spending.

The high cost of travelling in Myanmar has been a factor that hinders tourism due to the airline industry’s exclusive business environment and crippling internal infrastructure and logistics.

Source: NAM News Network