It is just less than three weeks away. On December 1st 2016, a further step will be taken by two ASEAN countries to make the political Association closer to a barrier-free zone for ASEAN citizens. From that date, Singaporeans travelling to Myanmar for short trips will no longer need to apply for a visa. Reciprocity will also apply : Myanmar nationals visiting Singapore will also receive a visa under a 30-day visa exemption. The measure was taken on June 7, during the official visit to Myanmar of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Under the agreement, both countries will grant an exemption of visa to each other’s citizens for a stay of not longer than 30 days, and subject to prevailing entry requirements.
The number of Myanmar tourists visiting Singapore has grown steadily in recent years following the transition to democracy since 2010. In 2015, Singapore authorities recorded 105,452 tourists from Myanmar with average spending by Myanmar visitors reaching S$2,811 per person per trip.
For the first eight months of 2016, Singapore recorded 77,000 Myanmar travellers, a growth of 7% compared to the same period of 2015. During a Singapore two-day festival hosted in Yangon in October, Edward Koh, STB’s executive director for Southeast Asia explained to Singapore’s TV Channel that “If Myanmar were to grow by at least double digits, in the coming few years, we’ll be seeing at least a quarter million Myanmar visits to Singapore on a yearly basis,” he added. Optimism is in the air as the potential remains largely untapped for Singapore in Myanmar. The country has a population of approximately 52 million citizens with an emerging middle class representing 10% to 12% of the total (5.3 million for now). But according to experts, this number could double until 2020.
According to the Myanmar Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, the total number of Singaporean visiting Myanmar reached in 2015 over 45,000 arrivals, a number which is likely to surpass 50,000 in 2016.
There are also now more weekly flights between Singapore and Myanmar’s two largest cities,Yangon and Mandalay. The number of flights a week increased from 44 last year to 53 this year.