Nearly 60,000 tourists have used new Myanmar e-visa
Dan Wallace | 05 May 2015

Between its introduction in September of 2014 and February of this year nearly 60,000 visitors have used Myanmar's new E-visa system, according to official statistics.

According to the Immigration Department at Yangon International Airport, most of the 59,917 foreigners visiting Myanmar with the E-visa during the period were from the US. This was followed by visitors from the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Currently available only to tourists and not those visiting for business or other reasons, the E-visa can be applied for online at www.evisa.moip.gov.mm and is valid for a stay of up to 28 days from the date of arrival in Myanmar and with a validity period of 90 days from its issuing date. It can be used to enter the country through Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay airports.

Requirements for an E-visa are that a person's passport is valid for at least six months, one colour photo taken during the past three months and the fee (non refundable) of US$50 paid either with Visa or MasterCard. The website states that the processing time of an application is up to five working days.

The introduction of the E-visa system comes as Myanmar sees its tourism numbers surging. In 2014 the country saw more than 3 million visitors for the first time, bringing in over US$1 billion. In 2013, visitor arrivals surpassed the 2 million mark for the first time.

The hotel and tourism ministry recently announced a target of 4.5 million arrivals for 2015 and revenue of US$2 billion.

While Nay Pyi Taw is the capital of Myanmar, the city of Yangon from which it took over the role in 2006 remains the country's largest city and prime international gateway. Many of those visiting Myanmar include a stay in Yangon in their travel plans, the city offering intriguing historical sights, a busy pace of life and a choice of accommodation that includes some of the finest historic hotels in Southeast Asia. Among the most notable of such properties are The Strand Yangon built in 1901 and Belmond Governor's Residence dating from the 1920s. Alongside these and other luxury hotels in Yangon, there's also a choice of budget and three to five star Yangonhotels.

New hotels in Yangon and other destinations like Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay have added to the country's room supply, while air links to Myanmar have increased with regional airlines launching new services to various points and/or boosting frequencies on existing routes.

2014 also saw Myanmar's first entry onto the UNESCO World Heritage List with the inscription in June of the Pyu Ancient Cities, the remains of the three brick, walled and moated cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River basin.

UNESCO said the locations "reflect the Pyu Kingdoms that flourished for over 1,000 years between 200 B.C and 900 A.D."

Aiming for World Heritage List inscription this year is Bagan, some 430 miles north of Yangon where the enchanting landscape is dotted with over 2,000 temples and stupas. The pagodas are mostly covered in reddish colour and religious monuments found in the area were built more than 1,500 years ago.

There are also plans to nominate Twin Taung Lake in central Myanmar's Sagaing Region for listing. The lake is an extinct volcano where spirulina - a blue-green freshwater algae that is rich in protein and can help boost the immune system and regulate cholesterol - is found.

The World Heritage List inscriptions are helping raise awareness among visitors to Myanmar of the cultural and historical attractions which can be added to a stay in Yangon and other cities.