Kayah may open Me-se border crossing
The border crossing between Me-se in Kayah State and Khum Yuam in Mae Hong Son in Thailand is expected to open before Kayah State Day next month, U Lin Zaw Htut, deputy director of Hotels and Tourism in Loikaw township, said on Monday.
Ambassadors of both countries inspected the border in October and are waiting for permission from the union government, he said.
“We hope to get permission before Kayah State Day on January 15,” U Lin Zaw Htut said.
They asked for permission to grant travellers stays of seven days and six nights in Loikaw province initially, he said.
Due to safety and security concerns, Loikaw is the only one of the state’s seven townships where the government allows foreign visitors to stay overnight.
Kayah State and Loikaw’s Department of Hotels and Tourism have been trying to get permission to open the border crossing since 2015, but the effort has been delayed because the border areas have not yet been mapped and one armed ethnic group in the state has not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement, he said.
“This armed group has promised the regional government not to disturb tourism business and border trade if the crossing is opened. The immigration department has agreed to allow in travellers from Thailand if Nay Pyi Taw agrees,” U Lin Zaw Htut said.
Loikaw has four villages that foreign visitors used to visit, and the Kayah government opened Moe Byel Dam to tourists last month. The dam, which is near Moe Byel city between Phekon at the southern end of Inle Lake and Loikaw city, had been closed for almost 20 years due to safety and security concerns.
The dam has three sluice gates that are part of the Lawpita hydropower project. Another gate on the same side between Inle Lake and Loikaw is now open for tourism.
Travel time between Loikaw and the dam is a half hour by car and about two hours by boat. From there to Inle Lake is another four hours by boat, said U Than Htwe, managing director of Kayah Beauty travel and tours.
“This dam is perfect for tourists because they can see the way of life of people in the villages on the way from Loikaw,” he said.
There are 347 rooms in 16 motels, guest houses and hotels available for visitors, and another 13 hotels with about 360 rooms are under construction, he said.
According to the Loikaw’s Department of Hotels and Tourism, there were 17,000 local visitors and 6400 foreign tourists in 2016. Through November this year, 20,000 local visitors and 6500 foreign tourists have visited.
“Tourism in Kayah State will be developed if the government can cut restrictions, if tourists don’t need to get permission, and the border is opened between Thailand and Loikaw,” U Than Htwe said.
Source: Myanmar Times 13 December 2017
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