Mandalay adds to visa on arrival list
MANDALAY, 20 February 2013: Citizens of another 22 countries are now eligible for a visa on arrival at Mandalay International Airport, Myanmar Times reported Monday.
The ruling came into effect 1 February according to Immigration and National Registration Department assistant director, U Than Win, who said most of the eligible countries are in Europe such as Belgium, Finland and Austria. Israel was also named on the list. However, very little information has filtered through to the travel trade, travellers and even airlines that are still insisting passengers obtain visas in advance from the nearest embassy.
“So far, citizens of 48 countries are eligible for visa on arrival. This will be useful for eligible travellers who don’t have time to apply for a visa at an embassy,” the assistant director said.
He said: “The duration of a business visa is 70 days, while tourist entry visas for seminars, meetings and workshops are valid for 28 days.”
Since 1 June 2012, a visa-on-arrival at Yangon International Airport has been in force for visitors from 27 countries including most countries from ASEAN and some European countries. In Asia, China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are listed.
The visa on arrival was introduced at Mandalay International Airport 1 November 2012.
However, just 76 visitors gained a business, tourist entry or transit visa on arrival from 1 to 10 February. Another 158 tourists have been issued a visa on arrival under a different programme that requires them to get permission from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism prior to arrival.
It should be noted that some airlines are demanding passengers have a visa issued by an embassy before they are allowed to board the aircraft. They claim they will have to bear the expense of repatriating the passenger if the visa-on-arrival is not approved in Yangon.
Due to these uncertainties in the system, the standard recommendation is to obtain a visa from the nearest embassy. In the case of business travel a letter from an organisation or company in the country helps to facilitate entry.
Myanmar is estimated to have attracted over 1 million tourists to the country in 2012, an increase of 200,000 compared with 2011, due to the significant political changes in 2012.