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Myanmar is opening its borders to international caravaners, the government has announced. Procedures for entering the country by road have been simplified and abbreviated, allowing many travellers to pass within a day or so.
Tourism ministry director U Myint Htwe told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the authority to issue entry visas at the border gates has now been granted to regional governments.

Under the law passed by the old government, caravan travel and tour companies had to apply for the visa more than a week in advance of the trip.

“Caravaners can apply directly to the regional Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Home Affairs, Defence, or Hotels and Tourism instead of the central government. If their documents are in order, it should take less than a week,” he said.

However, major entry points to China and India such as Muse and Tamu are not considered international borders, and applicants must deal with Nay Pyi Taw, he said.

“The law that would allow caravaners to pass through those gates has not yet been amended,” he said. But entry via Myawaddy, Tachileik, Htee Khee and Kawthaung international border gates can be authorised within two days.

“We expect a rise in caravan tours because of the new political situation,” said the director.

Daw Aye Sandar, director of Mother Irrawaddy travel and caravan tours company, said the procedures were much easier than those under the former government.

“We used to have to submit a week in advance and it was not easy to add more people to the application list, but it’s much more convenient now. Independent travellers can apply to the respective regional government,” she said.

The tourism ministry said independent caravaners could apply either through tour companies or direct at the border gate.

Caravan tours started in Myanmar in 2000 operated by Myanmar Travels and Tours under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The tours were not initially very popular, with agents blaming strict document requirements.

Though restrictions began to ease under the previous government, and private companies were granted permission to run the service in 2012, only a handful of the 1900 registered tour operators offer caravan tours. The tours can normally stay from five to 15 days in Myanmar depending on their destinations.

Last year, 152 caravan tours groups visited the country, primarily with tourists from Thailand and China.

By Ei Ei Thu | Monday, 06 June 2016
Credit : Myanmar Times

A joint-venture investment by Hong Kong-based Strand Hotels International and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the Strand Hotel, closed from May 1 to renovate for six months and will reopen in November.

According to Olivier Trinquand, vice president of the Strand Hotel and Cruise, the renovation will change the hotel décor to a sophisticated decoration style while preserving its colonial features.
Renovations throughout the hotel will focus on guest rooms, the Strand Signature Restaurant, Café and the Sarkies Bar.

“The hotel has been in operation for more than 114 years and hasn’t been renovated for 23 years. We won’t demolish walls, just refurbish the interior decoration of the hotel,” he added.

The hotel hosted a closing party to celebrate its future and history.

“There’s no better manner to usher in a new era at The Strand hotel, with a toast to the future in the century-old tradition of the Grand dame of Yangon, which will see the city’s top personalities gather for the highlight of Yangon’s social calendar,” Tinquand said.

“The Strand name has been synonymous with luxury hospitality in Southeast Asia since 1901 and these renovations are an exciting new chapter in our history.”

The original construction of the hotel took nine years, from 1892 to 1901 and was created by brothers Aviet and Tigran Sarkies. The duo also built hotels in Singapore and Malaysia. The hotel underwent extensive renovation in 1989, and a second time in 1993, with this undertaking being the third renovation of its existence.

“We won’t change the structure of the building, but we will modify and ‘Myanmar-nise it,’” Operations Manager Mark William Murray-Brown said.
During renovation period, about 140 staff members from the hotel will undergo a refresher course for training as well as language courses and will receive a basic salary during the down time.

Author: Moh Moh Kyi | 9 May, 2016 18:12 pm | Vol 4 Issue 17
Credit : Myanmar Business Today

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be the first high-ranking foreign official to meet the new government when he holds talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw today.

The official visit was officially announced yesterday by Beijing which said Mr Wang was visiting “at the invitation of Myanmar’s new foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi”.

The choice of China as her first interlocutor highlights the importance attached to Myanmar’s main trading partner. Relations under U Thein Sein’s former government became strained during a perceived shift by Myanmar towards the West, accompanied by the suspension of the Chinese-backed Myitsone dam project and the outbreak of war with Kokang-based ethnic Chinese rebels close to the border.

A Chinese official said Mr Wang would stay in Myanmar for two days.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi made her first visit to China last June as leader of the National League for Democracy when she met President Xi Jinping. Few details emerged of her trip.

Chinese officials and media are stressing that relations between the two countries are expected to remain positive.

riting in The Myanmar Times today, Chinese ambassador Hong Liang said China wanted to help Myanmar “achieve better and faster development” with Beijing’s “one belt and one road” initiative of infrastructure projects linking Asia to Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

The China Daily this week said in a commentary that it hoped Myanmar’s new government would respond with good will to the “positive signals” from the Chinese side.

By Guy Dinmore | Tuesday, 05 April 2016
Credit : Myanamr Times

“Since Myanmar embarked on the road to democratization in 2011, some in the West have drummed up the rhetoric that ‘China’s clout in Myanmar is waning’,” the commentary noted.

“Admittedly problems have cropped up between the two countries in the past few years. China has endured economic losses when Myanmar stalled the construction of some projects,” said China Daily which also mentioned “some anti-China sentiments in Myanmar”.

Mr Wang is expected to be followed to Nay Pyi Taw by Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni later this week.

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