Tour operators check out Mergui

YANGON, 22 December 2016: New travel options are opening up in Myanmar’s Mergui archipelago led by Burma Boating that offers sailing trips and a few holiday resorts located on remote islands.

Tourism promoters in Myanmar call the Mergui archipelago one of the best kept secrets of the country’s southern coast. It is changing fast as tourists begin to explore the region.

Although it officially opened to tourism in the late 1990s, the region remained way down the list of priorities for first-time travellers who preferred to explore the country’s heritage sites.

inside no 7But the country is now promoting its unspoilt archipelago in the far south that is emerging as an attractive destination for travellers who have already visited Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon.

Roughly 200 km south of Mergui, Thailand’s popular resorts of Khao Lak, Phuket and Krabi pull in mass tourism and are suffering a heavy toll socially and environmentally.

In contrast, Myanmar’s island and beach resorts are almost deserted attracting just a few seasoned travellers. If the country can control the flow of tourists the area could avoid the problems that Thai resorts face; rising crime and severe damage to the marine and coastal environment.

Tourism officials in Myanmar claim they are not about to follow Thailand down a road to mass tourism, but often greed in the tourism industry dictates otherwise.  Tourism is one of the few industries, worldwide, that is not taxed for collateral damage caused to the environment during the industry’s exploitation of natural resources.

It is now possible to enter Myanmar at Mergui using an e-visa that can be processed and paid for online. This will make it more convenient for travellers who fly direct to Phuket from Europe and are interested in booking a side trip to Myanmar’s attractive beaches and islands.

Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee is highlighting the region that has more than 800 islands and powdery white beaches to the travel trade and consumers, worldwide.

inside no 7.1It points out that many islands are home to the Moken people or “sea gypsies” estimated to number around 2,000. They maintain a traditional lifestyle linked to the sea.

The Mergui archipelago in the past had limited accommodation options. Visitors could stay at the casino resort known as Andaman Club or buy a live-aboard diving holiday.

While Burma Boating leads the live-on-board charter option, visitors can also stay at newly opened island resort, such as Nyaung Oo Phee Island, or Boulder Island Resort.

“The Mergui Archipelago is just opening up to tourism and most people come to explore remote islands. We believe that our classic sailing boats are the best way to explore the area in style,” said Burma Boating’s general manager Janis Vougioukas.

“Mergui Archipelago is like Maldives with more dramatic scenery, fewer tourists and almost no infrastructure,” was how a Swiss couple visiting the area described their holiday recently.

“My work in Myanmar took me all around the country many times, but the Mergui Archipelago remains one of my favourite destinations not only in Myanmar, but also around the world,” said Mergui Projects & River Cruises general manager, Marek Lenarcik.

Resorts and sailing companies based in the Mergui archipelago include: Andaman Club; Myanmar Andaman Resort: Burma Boating; Nyaung Oo Phee Island; Boulder Island Resort and Mergui Princess.

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