Boost for tourism as border crossings with Thailand open
Tachileik-Mae Sai, Myawaddy-Mae Sot, Kawthoung-Ranong and Htee Khee-Sunron, all on the border with Thailand, have now been designated as international entry and exit points, for Thais and nationals of other countries, the Ministry of Immigration and Population announced.
?These checkpoints were opened on August 28 especially to promote border tourism between Myanmar and Thailand. I am sure this will attract more tourist arrivals to Myanmar through the border crossings,? said a ministry spokesperson.
Myanmar citizens with Thai visas will also be able to cross into Thailand at these points.
The ministry said those who enter or depart from the border checkpoints can then enter or leave the country from either the border checkpoints or international airports at Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay. The rules for visa extensions remain unchanged.
The government said the relaxation of travel restrictions has been made possible by its political reforms, particularly efforts to reach peace agreements with ethnic minority groups. The stage now appears to be set for rapid and continuous growth in the tourist industry.
Yangon-based travel companies hailed the announcement. Daw Su Su Tin, managing director of Exotissimo Travel, told The Myanmar Times that the company was planning new programs to take advantage of the opportunities in overland travel.
?Visitors can also save money by entering the checkpoints. I am sure this will attract more visitors,? she said.
SB Chetry, managing director of Journeys Nature and Culture Explorations, said, ?This is indeed good news for the industry. Tour operators can add new border entry package programs. People normally consider Myanmar an expensive destination, but now we can create cost-effective package programs through the border checkpoints.?
Tourist arrivals through border checkpoints rose sharply in the first seven months of the year, figures from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show. From January 1 to the end of July, 95,468 tourists entered the country via the border, up from just 18,616 during the same period in 2012.
The decision to open the checkpoints was made after talks between President U Thein Sein and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in April in Brunei on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.