Falling numbers from Europe spearhead the extension of visas on arrivals to more countries by Myanmar authorities. Six European countries will then be eligible for VOA from this coming October.
While overall tourism arrivals to Myanmar for 2018 rose by 3.2 per cent to 3.6 million, the European market posted a dip due to media coverage on the conflict in the Rakhine region. To counter the negative trend, the government is now extending the possibility for travellers to get a visa on arrival (VOA) without going through the procedure of an e-visa.
The new facility will be offered to only six European countries: Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and Spain. Citizens of the six countries will be able to apply for visas on arrival when entering at international airports paying US$50 per visa. They are then permitted to remain in Myanmar for a period of 30 days. The term of the visas cannot be extended. The measure is due to come into effect before the winter peak season by October. It must be noticed that France and the UK, which are the top European markets to Myanmar with over 50,000 for the first one and 40,000 arrivals for the second- are not included in the new regulation.
The expected easing of restrictions for Europe comes after the government last year implemented similar measures for Japan, South Korea and China -including Hong Kong and Macau, resulting in a 30 percent rise in the number of tourists from those countries.
European visitors stay longer and spend more money than Asians. According to tour operators, a typical trip by European travellers last 9 to 14 days on average with higher spending per capita.
During the first half of 2019, total international arrivals increased by 24% to reach 2.14 million, a positive evolution due to skyrocketing figures from China (+140%) and Korea (+84%). Arrivals from top countries in Europe continued to be down with France dropping by 3%, the UK by 11% and Germany by 2%. From Europe, only Austria, Italy and Spain showed positive growth rates during the first half of the year.