Myanmar, Singapore agree on visa exemption to boost tourism

Myanmar, Singapore agree on visa exemption to boost tourism

Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (left) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong toasts during a dinner reception in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. (AFP photo)
Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (left) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong toasts during a dinner reception in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. (AFP photo)

Starting in December, Myanmar and Singapore citizens will no longer need a visa to travel between the two countries.

The visa exemption scheme was negotiated during a meeting between State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, the Myanmar Times reported on Wednesday.

The 30-day visa-free travel agreement will take effect on Dec 1.

“Normally, Asean countries agree to a 14-day visa exemption, so 30 days is good for the relationship between the two countries and it could support the tourism industry and business as well,” said Aye Aye Soe, deputy director-general of the Department of Consular and Legal Affairs.

Lee met first with President Htin Kyaw on Tuesday for a half-hour after a welcome by the honour guard in front of the presidential palace.

In the following afternoon meeting, Suu Kyi and Lee also discussed tax agreements between the two countries, the extension of direct Singapore Airline flights to big cities in Myanmar and the opening of a Myanmar-Singapore hospitality and vocational training school.

Not only would these agreements be good for the tourism industry, it would also improve Myanmar’s international standing, said Sabei Aung, managing director of Nature Dreams Travel and Tours.

“The 30-day visa-free programme will improve the relationship between the two countries. Outbound tours to Singapore will increase and then later many Singaporean investment companies will enter Myanmar. I’m very satisfied with the visa-free programme for our country’s future potential,” she said.

Myanmar has been implementing visa exemption agreements with fellow Asean members since 2009 when it signed an agreement with Laos. The agreements were all ideally supposed to be in place by 2014 when Myanmar chaired Asean.

Myanmar had already signed visa-exemption memorandums of understanding with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Immigration has long been a concern for Singapore. No agreement has yet been signed with Malaysia for the same reason.


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