A new border crossing between Kayah State and Thailand’s Mae Hong Song province will open later this year, a move that Myanmar hopes will help boost tourism and regional development in the remote state according to tourism website TRRweekly on 22 June.
Mae Hong Song province is in the far northwest of Thailand, bordering Myanmar, but does not have an international border crossing for tourism.`
Ministry of Commerce deputy director, U Nyunt Aung, told the Myanmar Times that the ministry sent a request to Thailand via the Thai ambassador on 21 May.
“We are ready to open the border gate as soon as we receive a reply from them.”
The new crossing would connect Myanmar’s Mese with Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, he said, adding that a bridge has already been built across the Thanlwin River, 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the border on the Myanmar side.
The initial request came from traders in Kayah State who believe a border crossing will help them create two-way commerce with Mae Hong Son.
“Transportation is getting better, so a new border gate would help to handle trade to and from Kayah State, Shan State and Mandalay to Mae Hong Son,” he said.
Ministry of Immigration general director, U Maung Maung Than, said once the new gate opened, Myanmar would issue seven-day visas and border passes at the crossing.
Kayah State has limited tourism infrastructure – just eight hotels with only 175 rooms, according to figures from the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.
Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee chairman, U Phyo Wai Yar Zar, said Kayah can benefit from cross-border visitors from Thailand as well as from tourists arriving from farther afield.
Kayah State has potential for tourism due to its proximity to Thailand and its rugged mountainous terrain, which includes caves as well as waterfalls. However, large stretches of the state were covered in landmines during hostilities between government troops and rebels. A massive de-mining effort would be required to make it safe.
At present, very few tourists visit Kayah State. It was one of the places off-limits to travellers up until recently when regulations were eased.
Kayah State is in east Myanmar, adjacent to Shan State in the north and Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province in the east. To the south and west it borders on Kayin State.