Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Myanmar signs quadripartite agreement on common ASEAN visa

Posted in Business, Myanmar, Tourism, Yangon by Sherpa Hossainy on July 9, 2013

Published in Myanmar Business Today (Vol 1, Issue 19) on June 13, 2013

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Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines signed a deal to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common visa system.

Ministers and tourism authorities of the four countries signed the agreement – “Statement of Intent on SMART Visa” – on June 5 at the 22nd World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism High-Level meeting “Building Myanmar’s Travel and Tourism Industry: Driving Growth and Job Creation.” Over 900 participants from 55 countries took part in the meeting in Nay Pyi Taw from June 5 to 7.

The statement of intent forms a part of joint efforts to improve growth of the national and regional travel and tourism sectors along with social integration.

U Htay Aung, minister for hotels and tourism, said, “Through a close coordination in the ASEAN we want to introduce a seamless tourism experience. We are aiming to create a free flow of goods, capital, investments, labour and tourists across the ASEAN region through this integration process.”

The minister said ASEAN members are working together to facilitate mobility across the borders for tourists and get rid of the traditional visa application process.

“By signing this letter of intent, ministers and tourism authorities agree to work hand-in-hand for the implementation of this system, whose objective will be that of eliminating those barriers to the movement of tourists which are currently creating disincentives to travel. Such objectives will be achieved in close coordination with the governmental entities in the respective countries,” U Htay Aung said.

The ministers of tourism have agreed to collaborate on working towards the ASEAN Common Visa initiative as called upon by leaders at the ASEAN Summit, which took place in Jakarta in November 2011. It also builds on the single visa scheme for tourism travel between Cambodia and Thailand, which was implemented in January this year.

Mari Elka Pangestu, minister for tourism and creative economy of Indonesia, told the forum: “Considering that tourism is a priority sector under the ASEAN Economic Community and that it constitutes a significant contribution to the integration of ASEAN countries, it is important to be ‘smart’ about visa facilitation for travel.”

“By recognising the importance of the connectivity in tourism activities, the statement of intent expresses our desire to give a boost to the tourism sector by facilitating the movement of tourists across borders; by going towards a smart visa through adopting best practices; and maximising the use of technology to reduce the inefficiencies of the traditional visa application process,” Ramon R Jimenez Jr, secretary of tourism of the Philippines, said.

Thea Chiesa, director, head of aviation, travel and tourism industries, World Economic Forum, told the meeting that although Myanmar’s target of achieving 3 million tourists by 2015 is “aggressive”, it could be achieved if a hassle-free visa regime can be put in place. Facilitating travel will also stimulate economic growth and job creation in Myanmar, she added.

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