YANGON, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has speeded up the issuance of travel permits for foreign tourists who plan to visit the ruby land of Mogok in the country's northern Mandalay region in an effort to develop tourism, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.
The travel permit to Mogok will be granted by the Mandalay region government within five days instead of one month, said U Myo Thit, Mandalay region minister for natural resources and environmental conservation.
Mogok was once closed to tourists but reopened on Sept. 10 last year, attracting nearly 500 tourists in three months.
Three more villages -- Kyaukpyathet, Panling and Bernard -- featuring mining of rocks and gemstone have been opened in February to foreign visitors, the report said.
Mogok is well-known for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire and 90 percent of ruby in the country are produced from Mogok.
Foreign visitors had been forbidden to enter the ruby land for a long time but Myanmar authorities have lifted the ban and made an effort to introduce the country's gems to the global market.