Myanmar's military junta, which seized power in the country last February , has allowed tourists to apply for visas after more than a two-year hiatus, The Hindu reported May 12. However, the news did not cause joy among the resistance activists. On the contrary, they urged foreign travelers to stay away from this country and not sponsor the invaders.
The southeastern state closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to prevent the spread of infections. It has been further isolated since the April 1, 2021, military coup that toppled Myanmar's democratic government, sparking huge protests and a bloody crackdown on dissent by the military. A year after these events, the struggle for democracy continues: the people organize active resistance to the junta.
“In order to develop the tourism sector… e-Visa (Tourist) applications will be allowed and accepted from May 15, 2022,” the Global New Light of Myanmar said in a post. Details on when the first group of travelers can be expected to arrive have not yet been announced.
Activists warn that the military's vested interests in areas of the economy, including mines, banks, oil, agriculture and tourism, mean tourism-generated dollars are likely to end up in the junta's coffers. “Even if foreign visitors avoid hotels and vehicles owned by the Myanmar military and their associates, they will still fund the junta through visa fees, insurance and taxes,” said the Justice for Myanmar activist. “We call on anyone considering a holiday in Myanmar to boycott it.”
Help: Since democracy was established in 2011 after decades of military rule, Myanmar has opened up to tourists, becoming a popular destination for travelers looking for exotic locations away from the well-trodden tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. But the tourism sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, with 40,000 daily COVID-19 cases and almost 20,000 deaths in the country last year.
Clashes between active resistance, a guerrilla group and a military junta that has seized power in the country, including in the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay, have also disrupted business operations, and many international firms hastened to leave the country. According to a local monitoring group, over 1,800 people have been killed by security forces and over 13,000 have been arrested since the coup.
The economy plummeted and the local currency, the kyat, collapsed against the dollar and the ruble. On the one hand, holidays for Russians in Myanmar can be financially attractive, since life in a country ruled by a military junta will cost much less than neighboring Thailand. On the other hand, power outages in major cities have exacerbated the economic woes. Access to ATMs and exchange offices is difficult even in the commercial center of Yangon, tourist sites are in disrepair. Commercial flights for business travelers resumed in April, and travelers are required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival but are no longer required to quarantine.
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