Myanmar’s tourism is on a roller coaster, accelerating in response to two years of government reforms according to Hotels and Tourism Minister, Htay Aung.
Talking to local media, earlier this week, he said Myanmar’s tourism sector was opening up to foreign investment and competition, but the challenge was to manage and develop infrastructure to maintain momentum.
Foreign tourists should reach 1.8 million by the end of the year with longer holiday stays, he explained.
“Tourism in Myanmar has showed a positive sign since 2011. Last year, 1.06 million tourists came to Myanmar an increase of around 30%.”
The minister advised: “We need to develop infrastructure to support the tourist increase.
“We need to move forward by developing tourism and implementing quality at the same time.”
The country has about 30,000 hotel rooms. About 10,000 more rooms will be ready by the end of this year across the country, although the main concentration of new rooms will be in Yangon initially to serve business travellers.
Hotels have been accused of overcharging and poor service and this has prompted the government to establish hotel zones to encourage international investment in new properties.
New hotel projects are lined up in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Bagan and Ngapali. Big hotel chains such as Accor, Marriott, Hilton, Best Western and HAGL are negotiating entry with new brands unseen in the country over the last 40 years.
“Tourist arrivals were up in May due to the increase in airline services. Arrivals from neighbouring countries are up significantly,” hew said.
He added that easier visa rules would encourage more arrivals.
“We can attract 2 million tourists a year soon if we can maintain growth and ease entry to the country,” he said.
The government projects 7.5 million tourists by 2020. According a tourism ministry report, last year’s arrivals passed 1 million for the first time and tourism revenue reached US$700 million.
Myanmar, which has a total area of 678,500 square kilometres, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and the 40th-largest in the world. It is somewhat smaller than the U.S. state of Texas and slightly larger... ... More