Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has suspended a requirement for Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean visitors to possess at least US$1,000 in cash before entering the country. The policy was suspended after the ministry received heavy public criticism, including from within the tourism industry.
The cash requirement was attached to a larger policy to grant visa-free access to Japanese and South Korean tourists and visa-on-arrival access to Chinese tourists, including those from Hong Kong and Macau, to make up for the decline in tourists from Europe following Myanmar’s mass expulsion of Rohingya.
The policies were adopted on July 20 and scheduled to come into effect on Oct. 1. Now, however, only the visa leniencies will now come into effect.
“The matter of show money is outdated. Most travelers use credit cards. In the past, Myanmar citizens had to carry cash as show money when they went to Thailand. But that system has long been abolished,” Aye Kyaw, vice chairman of Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, said last week.
Daw Khin Than Win, the acting deputy director general of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, explained the policy’s suspension on Aug. 1.
“The [cash requirement] policy was adopted at the request of the Ministry of Labor, Immigration, and Population. Nonetheless, we have suspended the requirement to show $1,000 in cashe because the policy is imperfect,” she said.
By the end of April, tourism from Eastern Europe had fallen by eight percent compared to last year, and tourism from Western Europe had fallen by 26 percent. The new visa policies are expected to maximize rising interest in Myanmar tourism among neighboring populations.
Myanmar Tourism Marketing chairperson May Myat Mon Win told TTR Weekly in June: “It will certainly lead to an increase of visitors from these nations, as we witnessed an increase from other countries such as Singapore when visa-free travel was introduced.”