Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population will allow tourists from 100 countries holding electronic visas to enter Burma through three cities on the Thai border, starting on Sept. 1.

The electronic visa application was introduced in 2014 and allowed tourists holding “e-visas” to enter the country only via airports in Rangoon, Mandalay or Naypyidaw; the business e-visa was introduced the following year with the same restrictions.

The immigration and population ministry announced on its website on Wednesday that the application process and policies for e-visas will remain the same, but that the allowance for overland entry is applicable to both tourist and business e-visa holders.

“Now all tourists and business e-visa holders from 100 countries can pass through three cities, following an agreement with Thai government and our government,” Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of Ministry of Immigration and Population told the Irrawaddy.

The three cities able to process e-visa holders entering Burma overland include Myawaddy in Karen State, which sits opposite Thailand’s Mae Sot; Tachileik in Shan State, across from Mae Sai in Thailand; and Kawthaung in Tenasserim Division, from Thailand’s Ranong.

“We hope these additional enhancements will offer our valued guests even more flexibility and convenience when visiting Myanmar in the near future,” the ministry said.

E-visa applicants are required to fill out an online visa form, verify that all the information entered is correct and make an online credit card payment. Applicants then receive a visa approval letter via email and are then eligible to have their passport stamped upon arrival by presenting a print-out of the electronic approval letter.

“Not all tourists can pass through the e-visa system, only those eligible,” Myint Kyaing said.

As Burma’s tourist arrivals have been increasing, reaching nearly 4.7 million in 2015, more than 60 percent of tourists came through overland border crossings, according to the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism figures.

U Maung Maung, managing director of World Quest International, said the new move—agreed to by the Burmese and Thai governments—is welcomed.

“I hope more tourists will come here from Thailand, and international tourist arrivals will be expected to increase,” he said.

“I don’t think there will be a negative impact as a result of this new process,” he added.

Tourist arrivals initially increased when Burma transitioned from a military government to a quasi-civilian administration in 2011, when the number of tourists entering the country was only 800,000. By 2014, this rose to over 3 million, according to official statistics.

Link: http://www.irrawaddy.com/burma/e-visa-holders-permitted-to-enter-burma-overland.html