Thailand, Myanmar visa-free agreement for signing next month
Bangkok Post, 25 Oct 2013
Thailand is expected to sign a visa-exemption agreement with Myanmar next month during a visit by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a Myanmar Foreign Ministry official said.
'We will sign an agreement once the Thai government has approved it. I don't know exactly when we will be able to sign but probably during the Thai prime minister's visit to Myanmar next month,'' Aung Htoo, deputy director-general of Myanmar's Asean Affairs Department, told the Myanmar Times.
The agreement approved by the Thai cabinet on Tuesday will allow Thai and Myanmar visitors mutual visa-free entry for up to 14 days if they travel by air through 23 airports in Thailand. Border crossings by land are not included.
Myanmar is the only country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which requires Thai visitors making a short visit to first to obtain a visa.
The Thai Foreign Ministry is likely to represent the government in signing the agreement with Myanmar.
Thai government officials could not be reached for comment.
Citizens of Myanmar and Vietnam can travel to each other's country under a visa exemption agreement that takes effect on Oct 26.
"We are also negotiating with the Philippines and hopefully we will reach an agreement very soon,'' Aung Htoo said.
The visa-free plan between Thailand and Myanmar will cover only travellers from the two countries using 23 designated Thai airports - Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Nan, Phitsanulok, Mae Sot, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Krabi, Trang, Narathiwat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Hua Hin, Samui, Sukhothai and U-tapao.
The visa-free arrangement could be cancelled by either Thailand or Myanmar, but they must give 60 days advance notice through their respective foreign ministries.
It could also be cancelled for health or security reasons, with 15 days notice, according to Thai Government House.
Myanmar is a popular destination for Thai tourists, who currently have to apply for a visa to enter. The visa allows them to stay up to 28 days.
Thai Airways International, Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Airways fly to Yangon, Nya Pyi Taw and Mandalay from Bangkok. Nok Air also services regular flights from Mae Sot to Yangon and Mawlamyine. It will launch flights to Yangon on Nov 1.