YANGON, 25 March 2016: Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism estimates the country will attract 6 million international tourists this year.
Tourism minister U Htay Aung told Myanmar Times that the tourism boom would continue and that a 25% increase in arrivals was achievable.
“We will be able to welcome 6 million tourists this year if the tourism situation maintains its pace against a background of sustainable peace and stability that the country has enjoyed. That’s very important in tourism.”
However, industry observers routinely question the government’s figures, that are based on an immigration count at land, sea and air entry points. The major share of travellers cross at overland checkpoints with Thailand. The popular checkpoints are Tachileik, Shan State and Karen State’s Myawaddy. There has also been an increase in overland visits from China.
Critics says many of the arrivals are traders not tourists.
Union of Myanmar Travel Association former chairman, U Khin Zaw, was quoted saying instead of focusing on numbers, the ministry should direct its attention to attracting more visitors during the low season, which coincides with the monsoon season from May to September.
“We need to create a tourism market for the whole year to reduce the gap between high and low-season prices.”
According to the ministry’s master plan for the period 2013 to 2020, arrivals are projected to hit 7.49 million in 2020.
Myanmar attracted USD2.64 billion in foreign investment in 47 projects in the hotels and tourism sector in 2015, up USD1.5 billion from 2011’s USD1.14 billion in 36 projects.
Of the total foreign investment in 2015, Singapore accounted for USD1.47 billion, the highest of any country, followed by Vietnam with USD440 million.
The number of tourism companies in the country rose from 1,670 in 2014 to 1,922 today. Of them, 1,822 are locally owned.
A total of 340 hotels were operating in Myanmar in 2015, compared to 290 in 2014.