We often hear people saying that you should jump on a bandwagon when you see one. Myanmar sure is a believer! Following Japan's footsteps, Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that they are planning for visa exemption for ASEAN countries starting from next year onwards. Well, we don't need a rocket scientist to figure out why Myanmar has such an idea as they in fact have a goal to hit by 2015.
Deputy Minister Tin Oo Lwin, recalled in parliamentary session on 26 August 2013 that Myanmar and Laos has signed a joint 14-day visa exemption for ordinary passport holders in 2006. Between April 2011 and May 2013, an amount of USD29 billion was reaped by the Myanmar government through the visa fee collection by its permanent missions, consulates in international countries and from its embassies.
Tin elaborated that the money collected from visa and passport related transactions will be transferred by respective offices to Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank in Euros once in every three months. The bank will then transfer the money in Kyat to relevant ministries. Last June, the government of Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines signed an agreement to develop a "smart visa" system for tourism development within the region.
At present, the Myanmar visa is obtainable by paying a fee for single-entry with 28-day validity. With the implementation of visa exemption, Myanmar will definitely be able to attract more ASEAN visitors as they can use the money for visa fee to pay for basic accommodation and local food instead.