Fri 31 Jul 2009
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Tour agencies have been directed by Burma’s Ministry of Hotel and Tourism to check tourists applying for ‘Arrival Visa’ with the list of people banned from entering the country.
“The people banned are among those ‘black listed’ and the list is with the Immigration Department,” Ohn Myint, Deputy Director at Ministry of Hotel and Tourism in Naypyitaw, told Mizzima.
The notice states that persons included in the ‘black list’ will not be issued ‘Arrival Visa’. Tour agencies as such are required to submit one of three forms to the Immigration Department in Rangoon six days in advance, in order to provide time for checking the list.
A director of a popular tour agency in Rangoon said the screening of ‘Arrival Visa’ is being done mainly to check people involved in politics.
“We have to submit the bio-data of tourists, who apply for ‘Arrival Visa’ to the Immigration Department. They [immigration] mainly check tourist’s into politics. The “black list” is with them and it is confidential,” the director told Mizzima.
Though tourists can apply for normal visas at respective Burmese embassies abroad, it is mandatory for tourists, who face time limits in applying for normal visas, to connect with tour agencies in Burma to apply for the ‘Arrival Visa’.
“For people, who do not have time to obtain a normal visa, authorities issue ‘Arrival Visa’ but they need to get in touch with tour companies before they come. Every tour agent takes care of his guests,” a director at another tour agency in Rangoon told Mizzima.
The ministry’s order on Thursday states that tour agents can enquire whether the list of their guests has been cleared by the Immigration Department. They have no right to question the decision of the Immigration rejecting a guest.
The order also said that the ‘Arrival Visa’ system has been introduced in order to make travelling to Burma easier and to provide maximum service to tourists. It is also to check that tour companies do not charge tourists extra for their services and prevent the companies from evading tax payment to the government, which is seven per cent.
“Tour agencies must understand that a country has the right to reject or welcome particular tourists, without giving any reason,” the order adds.