The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said the Labour, Immigration and Population Ministry were late in issuing the new regulations, which is why the information was only relayed to tourism and travel related agencies on Monday even though the ruling was meant to have been effective December 1.
“We informed travel associations on Monday. The VOA for Indian citizens is similar to the one offered to mainland Chinese who are able to apply for them at the three international airports,” U Myo Win Nyunt, director of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism told the Myanmar Times yesterday.
Earlier on October 1, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population relaxed the visa regulations from visitors from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau. It also accorded VOA to mainland Chinese visitors.
According to Hotels and Tourism Ministry statistics, a total of 41,197 Indian tourists visisted Myanmar last year.
It added that from January to October this year, a total of 35,412 Indian tourists visited the country, an increase of 4.27 percent compared with the same period last year.
U Naung Naung Han, general secretary of Union of Myanmar Travel Association, said the number of visitors from India is not substantial yet but there is a huge potential for growth,
“We should prepare for the India market from now on because of a lot of Indian people are going to other countries for holidays. They may be interested in pilgrimages tours to Bagan, Mandalay and Yangon and some of Myanmar’s beautiful beach areas as well,” he said, adding that many Indian holiday makers are going to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
“India is a potential market for Myanmar’s tourism offerings because we have similar religious belief as Hinduism. They also like to pay homage to pagodas such as the Shwedagon, Bagan,” U Naung Naung Han said.
To date, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population allows visitors from over 50 countries to apply for visas on arrival at the country’s three international airports.
In September last year, the Indian government introduced free visas for all Myanmar citizens. This was announced after the visit to Myanmar by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Tourism Ministry said the number of Myanmar travellers to India increased by more than 10 percent last year due to the new visa policy for travellers from Myanmar.
Many Myanmar travellers go to India to visit the Bodh Gaya religious site and about 30,000 Myanmar pilgrims visited India annually. Last year more than 50, 000 Myanmar pilgrims visited India.
A cross-border travel agreement between the two countries was announced during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Myanmar in May in this year.
According to the agreement, travellers from both countries and from third countries can pass through Tamu-Moreh Gate and Rikhawdar-Zokhawthar Gate with visas and e-visas.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife arrived in Myanmar on Monday for a five-day visit. They will stay in the country until December 14.