Myanmar reopens to travellers

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Myanmar will reopen to international tourists on 17 April, the government announced after a two-year shut-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The junta’s announcement, however, lacked details on visa entry rules or the airlines intending to serve Yangon’s international airport.

Myanmar first closed the country in March 2022 to international tourists to tackle a surge in Covid-19 cases. However, since 1 February 2021, when a military coup swept aside the country’s legitimate government, Myanmar has descended into chaos and civil unrest, which has seen more than 1,600 civilians killed and an estimated 11,000 arrested and imprisoned.

The military junta announced that international tourists effective 17 April can enter the country, but official websites, including immigration and the country tourism ministry, have yet to clarify the visa requirements or whether the eVisa and visa-on-arrival facilities will be reinstated.

There are no details on which airlines will serve Yangon’s international airport that is currently open only to repatriation flights for Myanmar citizens and those entering the country on official business with the junta.

As of 17 April, entry will be limited to just fully vaccinated travellers who must undergo two PCR tests during a week-long quarantine in Yangon on arrival.

Airline booking websites that offered up to 30 foreign flights to Yangon daily from cities around Asia pre-Covid-19  flagged travel suspension notices for flights throughout April suggesting no commercial scheduled flights are in the pipeline.

It is too early to identify airlines that might consider flying to Yangon, with the exception of Myanmar Airways International, which continues to offer repatriation flights from Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur to Yangon. Thai Airways International flies ad hoc services from Bangkok.

Earlier in the year, Myanmar’s Ministry of Immigration posted a notice on its website that said the ban on international travel and the issue of visas would continue until 31 March 2022.

Even if Myanmar opens a visa-on-arrival or eVisa facility for international tourists, travel firms are not optimistic they will see any bookings. There are strong sentiments against visiting the country. Travellers will be wary of the security risks and are likely to support a boycott of the country. As long as a military junta that usurped power from a democratically appointed government runs the country travellers will go elsewhere.

(Source: AFP)

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