Tuesday, 9 May 2017

MYANMAR: Myanmar Launches e-visa At Three Land Borders

EFFECTIVE from September 1, foreigners with e-visa can be used to enter and exit through three land border checkpoints between Myanmar and Thailand, the ministry of immigration and population announced officially.

Under the agreement between the two countries, Myanmar and Thailand citizens as well as third country citizens with holding valid passport and e-visa will be permitted to enter and depart from Myanmar through Tachileik-Maisai, Myawaddy-Mesok, and Kawthoung-Ranong land border checkpoints.

Previously, the holders of e-Visa were not able to enter Myanmar at the border checkpoints. Those with e-Visa are only allowed to enter Myanmar at International Airport in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.

The permit of stay, extension of stay and the visa fees, the rules and regulation remain the same and is applicable to both tourist and business e-visa types.

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, has provided to extend a debt of $13.5 million to United International Group’s hotel business in Myanmar.

The loan will be used for expanding the company’s existing operations, such as building of a new 114-room hotel in Bagan, and a 110-room hotel and 20 villas in Nyaung Shwe, for an estimated total cost of $29 million.

IFC plans to give the loan in two phrases. The first will be for $8.5 million and the rest $5 million, IFC said in a filing.

United International Group, also known as Amata Hotel Group currently operate three resorts, Amata Ngapali Beach Resort in Thandwe, Amata Garden Resort in Nyaungshwe, Hsipaw Resport in Northerthern Shan State, Amata Boutique House in Bagan and Oriental Ballooning that operates in Bagan, Mandalay, Inle, Pindaya and Ngapali.

The loan is expected to add on the development of the company’s expansion while benefitting the tourism sector by adding quality accommodation in key tourism areas, the IFC statement said. Locally sourced materials are likely to be used for the project.

In addition, IFC will continue provide long-term financing, sharing of global industry knowledge and expertise, help improve the environmental and social standards of the company and support the expansion of a local hotel chain.

As part of its Asia focus, IFC has pledged to invest $200 million in Emerging Asia Fund, which IFC will look at equity opportunities in the continent.

CITIZENS from Myanmar and Mongolia will be able to travel freely between the two countries when a visa exemption agreement signed yesterday comes into effect.

The foreign affairs ministers of both countries discussed the agreement in Nay Pyi Taw on June 15 and signed a memorandum of understanding, President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay told reporters yesterday.

He spoke at a press conference after a meeting between President U Htin Kyaw and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. During his visit to Myanmar on June 15, Mr Elbegdorj invited State Counsellor and Foreign Affairs Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Mongolia.

MYANMAR'S Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has, from July 1, launched an online registration portal (http://elicence.tourism.gov.mm) to facilitate permit applications and renewals for the travel and hospitality industry.

At present, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism issues four kinds of licences: a hotel licence costs between 200,000 kyat (US$170) and 1.9 million kyat, based on the number of rooms; a tour company licence costs 400,000 kyat; a tour guide licence costs 50,000 kyat; and a licence to provide transportation for tourists costs between 50,000 kyat and 500,000 kyat, depending on the vehicle type.

Licence holders must renew every two years, according to the ministry's Directorate of Hotels and Tourism.

Meanwhile, the ministry revealed that information cards for tourists will be rolled out soon, as the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is currently negotiating with Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, and telco operators Ooredoo, Telenor and Viettel to provide the system electronically.

These cards will provide visitors with data about Myanmar’s tourism industry such as airline schedules, bus and transportation options, restaurants plus other travel advices.

ONE more Thai airline, the Thai Lion Air (TLA), is planning to fly between Bangkok and Yangon starting from July 22.

The low-cost airline is one of the subsidiaries of Indonesia's Lion Air group which registered in Thailand.

TLA will operate twice daily from Bangkok to Yangon, offering free 30 kg checked-in baggage and free 15 kg of sport equipment to every passenger.

Currently, there are five airlines flying to Myanmar from Thailand, which are Thai Airways, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, NOK Air and Air Asia.

Myanmar airlines flying Bangkok are Myanmar National Airlines and Myanmar Airways International with daily flights.

Meanwhile, a Netherlandish airline, the Royal Dutch KLM, will also fly Yangon soon, according to an aviation agreement signed between Myanmar and the Netherlands on Monday.

There are now 25 international airlines flying Myanmar in addition to 10 domestic airlines, media reports said.

Two airlines will begin routes from Bangkok to Mandalay next month, as Myanmar’s tourism industry continues to expand.

Flag-carrier Myanmar National Airways (MNA) and Myanmar Airways International (MAI) will operate flights from the Mandalay to Thailand’s capital.

MNA will offer three flights a week from August 31, and a day earlier MAI will do the same. For MNA, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, its usual flight from Yangon to Bangkok will also stop at Mandalay.

MAI will fly Mandalay-Bangkok direct on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The two airlines are also planning to add other international routes to their flights.

Reports say that MNA is planning to open flights to Shang- hai and Chengdu in China while MAI has reportedly applied to fly directly to Kolkata in India.

Myanmar National Airlines was one of two carriers to launch flights between Mandalay and Bangkok on August 31.

The airline will operate thrice weekly flights on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with 737-800s.

The route is is also served by Bangkok Airways as daily flights and and Myanmar Airways International as thrice-weekly flights.

Myanmar National Airlines also serves Bangkok from Yangon. The airline’s three remaining international routes are from Yangon to Hong Kong, Singapore and Vientiane.

BOUTIQUE cruise operator Burma Boating has added four new yachts to its fleet, including new flagship the Clan VI, bringing total boat count to 10.

The 40m-long Clan VI will cruise Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago, offering both scheduled itineraries and private charters, starting October. The yacht can accommodate groups of up to 10.

Between November 2016 and May 2017, Clan VI will sail seven-night cruises from Kawthaung in Myanmar's south to the historic port town of Myeik, crossing the entire Mergui Archipelago.

The 800 mostly-uninhabited islands had been off-limits to foreigners since Myanmar's independence and only opened to tourism recently. It remains one of the planet's most unspoilt destinations. There are currently no hotels operating in the area.

Burma Boating also announced a new scheduled cruise from Thailand to India's Andaman Islands. The 12-night trip will operate between February and late April next year.

Meliá Hotels International has opened the Meliá Yangon, the first hotel operated by the brand in the country and a strategic project for its expansion strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yangon is the country's largest city and remains the biggest commercial center and main transit hub of the country, as well as home to historical colonial buildings and landscape. The hotel is located on Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd., a short distance to the city center as well as to Yangon International Airport and the Shwedagon Pagoda. The city’s shopping mall, Myanmar Plaza, is adjacent to the hotel.

Overlooking the Inya Lake, the hotel provides 430 modern rooms furnished with state-of-the-art amenities. Exclusive privileges are available on The Level, the brand’s signature executive floor, such as access to The Level Lounge on the top floor with 360-degrees views of the city and Inya Lake.

The property’s three high-end restaurants include The Market, an all-day dining restaurant in an authentic open market setting; The Lantern, serving reinterpreted classics; and in a few weeks, Olea restaurant will open and offer European cuisine. At the end of the year, the hotel will introduce a Hollywood golden age atmosphere in the Garbo Bar, named after the actress Greta Garbo.

An on-site convention area provides various sizes of ballrooms and function rooms equipped with the latest technology for events. The hotel’s facilities also includes an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center and a soon-to-open YHI spa.

According to the Customs Department, Yangon’s duty-fee custom stores earned over Ks100m (US$87,000) from passengers entering Yangon International Airport (YIA) during May.

Duty-free customs is up in May this year by Ks30m (US$25,000) compared to this time last year. Ks70m (US$58,000) was received from duty-free in May 2015.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar has been a record increase of tourists and domestic travellers since opening up to the world in 2011.

International arrivals have increased from 816,319 in 2011 to 4,861,020 in 2015.