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India's visa-free policies attract Myanmar tourism
In 2017, Myanmar travelers to India rose by more than 10 per cent over 2016, apparently benefiting from the new visa exemption for all Myanmar residents from September 2017. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Myanmar last September 6th to announce free visa for all Myanmar people.
Approximately 30,000 Myanmar-bodh Gaya people attend the yearly Bodh Gaya Festivals, but in 2017 more than 50,000 people came to India, the minister said. There' s also a possibility for the northeast part of India, near Myanmar, and the highway checkpoint will probably open in two places to allow Myanmar travelers to come, she said.
For the first Egyptian tourist industry in Myanmar, the Indian Ambassador in Yangon and the Indian Ministry of tourism hosted an international tourist development conference, bringing together Myanmar tourist and tourist industry representatives in Yangon on Monday. "It is a good occasion for the peoples between the two nations to get together and explore the possibilities for posting Myanmar and Myanmar tourist to India or India," said Rashimi.
Burma travelers go to India not only for pilgrimage, but also for medicinal travel and adventures in the Himalayas, the department said. "Myanmar's medicinal tourist industry is not very big at the present time, but the possibilities are high. We are also looking forward to the young Myanmar residents who are showing a great deal of interest about the Himalayan adventures that they are doing," said Rashmi.
Last year, around 60,000 Indian tourists came to Myanmar, according to the MFA. "The Indians travel a great deal and the land has a vast populace. There are many travellers to Singapore and Thailand, so I am sure that Myanmar can also be very interesting for Indians. We also want everyone in India to see different things," said Meenakshi Sharma, General Manager of the Minister.
For Myanmar travelers, free visa is available from the Mandalay and Indian embassies in Yangon. Yangon has up to 200 visa requests per day for travel agents and up to 50 individual visa requests. Because of the restricted possibilities of visa handling in Yangon, it is overburdened by high demands, especially in the high seson.
This is why the Yangon Ambassador should expand its capacities, said U Naung Naung Han, General Sectretary of the Union of Myanmar Travel Associations. "Yangon has a maximum of 30,000 visa applications per year and is restricted to 250 visa applications per days.
More than 20,000 visa applications are issued by the Mandalay Embassy. He said, "If they want 100,000 in Yangon, they must increase the visa applications to 500 per person per day. Visa handling in Yangon can take from three working nights to a full working day, while the Mandalay visa office can provide visa services in one workday.
Travel agencies in Yangon usually go to the Mandalay office when the visa requirement rate in Yangon expires, he said. If there is high levels of interest in the high seasons, travel agents are already waiting outside the office at 4 a.m. to get a visa request pass, he added.
"How come the Yangon office has a longer turnaround time than the Mandalay office can handle it in one working hour? A number of tour operators are cancelling their reservations due to visa problems for clients, reducing their revenues by more than 10,000 USD (39 million K13). We asked the embassador to listen to our concern about visa processing," said U Naung Naung Han.
India's free visa for Myanmar pilgrimage is not new. Since 1998, in appreciation of the friendships between the two nations, the southern Asia has issued a free visa for pilgrimage. However, the visa free of charge will take 40 working day.