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Myanmar Tourism 2023

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  • Myanmar Tourism 2023

    Most tourists to Myanmar turn out to be Thais

    A group of Thai tourists visit a temple complex in Myanmar. The Myanmar Tourist Board has confirmed that the majority of international tourists to the conflict-torn country are in fact Thai vacationers. The Board claims that around 15,000 tourists a month as an average land at Yangon international airport, the only entry point, although observers think the number is significantly inflated. According to the independent Mizzima news site, more than half are Thai nationals visiting cultural sites in Yangon or to attractions such as the Kyaikhiyoh historic pagoda. The estimate is supported by the fact that most daily international flights from and to Myanmar actually service Bangkok.

    The Thai government still enjoys good relations with the coup leaders in Myanmar, particularly at senior army level, and there is even encouragement for Thai vacationers to book holidays there. Thai TV’s Channel 7, owned by the army, carries promotional material on behalf of the Myanmar hotel and tourist authorities. The military administration of senior general Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, tries to promote the country in Thailand through virtual shows, group discounts, colorful videos and even dance troupes.

    But Myanmar’s tourist ambitions beyond Thailand have fallen on stony ground. The senior general has warm relations with Russia and has praised Putin as the guy ensuring global stability. In return, the coup leader has been made an honorary professor at Moscow’s military university. But Russians enjoy beach venues for a vacation and there are none located near the single airport which can receive tourists. Myanmar’s relations with China have cooled, thanks largely to perceived Chinese plunder of the country’s natural resources, and western tour group companies, based in Australia and UK, have shown no interest in resuming their former links with such a troubled and violent destination.

    Travel gurus say Myanmar’s documentary entry requirements remain cumbersome whilst parts of the country, outside tourist districts, are closed or under curfew. A 10 days notice of intention is required to visit some of the more remote temple districts. The real tragedies of Myanmar are the 200,000 Myanmar economic refugees, mostly women and children and 72 percent of whom are undocumented, who have fled to emergency Thai camps at the border to escape bombing and military conflict. The last thing on their minds is the attempted revival of Myanmar’s international tourist industry.

  • #2
    Thailand-Myanmar land border in Chiang Rai reopens after 3-year closure

    The Thailand-Myanmar land border at the Maesai Border Checkpoint in the northern province of Chaing Rai reopened yesterday after being closed for three years due to Covid-19. Thais and foreigners who want to visit Myanmar need to show a vaccine certificate or Covid test. Maesai Border Checkpoint and Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge 1, which connect Chiang Rai province in Thailand with Thachileik district in Myanmar, have been closed since March 23, 2020. Only Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge 2 was left open to transport products between the two countries.

    The reopening ceremony yesterday at 7am was attended by the Chiang Rai Governor, Somwang Boonrayong, and the Thachileik Governor, U Min Nai. Somwang stated that the border is currently being tested and is open for 12 hours per day, starting from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm. He anticipates that within a month, the opening time will be extended to 9:00 pm. The authorities aim to evaluate the situation in Myanmar in order to ensure the safety of travellers before resuming normal operations at the checkpoint.

    According to Somwang, the border closure had a negative impact on the economies of both Thailand and Myanmar, and its reopening is a positive indication of development for the economy as well as the friendship between the two countries. The Maesai District Chief, Narongpon Kid-an, made it known to the public that Thai people or foreigners who want to visit Myanmar via the border must obtain a temporary border pass by visiting the Maesai District Office or submitting a passport at the Chiang Rai Immigration Office.

    Visitors must submit a vaccine certificate or ATK test results from a hospital to gain permission and a border pass. The authorities from the Thachileik district emphasised that they would not receive any electronic documents. So, visitors must prepare the printed version of their vaccine certificate and Covid test result. According to Thai officers, these rules and practices would be in effect for one month during the trial period. More meetings would be held to discuss the next steps.