Myanmar tourism off to a good start

YANGON, 8 March 2019: Myanmar started 2019 on a positive note registering 162,612 tourist arrivals during January an increase of 19% when compared with the same month in 2017.

Preliminary figures were released, earlier this week, by the country’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Data collection and reporting has improved dramatically with the ministry issuing updates in a timely fashion and posting details on its website in both Burmese and English.

In its January report, the tally confirmed the continued dominance of Asian markets that delivered 121,439 arrivals a remarkable improvement of 31% year-on-year.

China topped the source markets in January with 41,860 visits recording an astounding 102% increase, while second placed Thailand with 25,325 visits actually declined by 9%.

Third paced South Korea delivered 14,435, performing solidly with a 68% increase, while fourth placed Japan with 11,468 visits improved by 23%. Vietnam in fifth place supplied 2,857 down by 27%.

Other Asian markets performing poorly in Japan included Malaysia down 21% and Singapore down 5%.

The message from Europe and North America in January was mainly negative with key market dropping visits to Myanmar. North America was down by 4%, west Europe off the pace by 5% and east Europe down 11%.

Four European markets delivered positive tourist arrivals for Myanmar in January.  In second place Germany supplied 4,084 visits, up 10%, Italy (5th) at 2,296, up 11%, Austria at 648, up 28% and Spain 829, up 7%.

France the top supplier in Europe registered 6,477 visits down 9% and the UK in third place with 3,492 visits declined 17%. Switzerland the fifth highest supplier with 1,254 visits declined 13%.

2019 will probably stand out as a turnaround year with Myanmar making gains in attracting tourists from Asia as China drives growth alongside South Korea. 

However, the country can ill afford to neglect the Malaysian market that recorded a 21% decline in January.  If that turns out to be a long term trend the blame could be ultimately placed at the door of immigration and the failure to offer Malaysians visa-free travel, the only nation in ASEAN that remains ineligible.

Western tourist markets slumped since August 2017, in response to human rights violations against the Rohingya ethnic minority. Military intervention caused an exodus of more than 700,000 people who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, while close to 130,000 people in the country were displaced.