A Trio of Asian Destinations Ease Visa Restrictions


Thailand, Myanmar and Taiwan are re-examining their visa policies and in some cases visa fees are being lifted.

Thailand is waiving its visa fee for three months as part of its efforts to boost the country's tourism. The Thai government will not charge for visa applications between March 5 and June 4. Thailand currently allows citizens of 42 countries to stay in the country for up to 30 days without a visa. Tourists from an additional 20 countries are granted a free visa on arrival for a stay not exceeding 15 days. Visitors planning to remain in Thailand for longer periods have to pay to apply for visas before their arrival in the country.

In a bid to promote cross-border tourism with China, Myanmar will grant visa-on-arrival for cross-border tourists entering by road from Teng Chong, in the southwestern Yunnan province of China, to connect by air to visit Myanmar's major tourist sites. Myanmar will also grant visas on arrival for tourists arriving in Myitkyina through chartered flights from Teng Chong International Airport, as well as other international airports of China to travel to tourist sites such as Yangon, Mandalay, the ancient city of Bagan and the resort destination of Ngwe Saung.

Previously, cross-border tourists from China were only allowed to travel to Myitkyina and a formal visa is required for travel deep into the country. The introduction of the visa-on-arrival has removed difficulties for tourists to obtain Myanmar visa from the Myanmar consulate-general stationed in Kunming, the report said, setting that leaving Myanmar on return trip for those who travel by road from Teng Chong to Myitkyina shall take the original route of crossing back the border gate. This move by Myanmar was sparked by the completion of the 60-mile section of the Myitkyina-Kanpikete highway last April, and this month’s inauguration of Teng Chong International Airport.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) yesterday said it was thinking of relaxing visa restrictions to attract more foreign tourists to Taiwan. BOCA is studying methods to reduce or abolish visa fees and expand visa-waiver and landing visa programs for foreign nationals by the end of March.

Currently, 38 countries, including Australia, the U.S., Canada and Japan are eligible for visa-free entrance to Taiwan. The visa application fee to visit Taiwan is $50. BOCA is considering extending visa-waiver privileges to Southeast Asian nationals who hold a valid long-term visa to the US, Canada, the EU and Japan.

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