Thai tourists top Myanmar

Thai tourists topped the list of visitors to Myanmar, January to April, this year, according to official figures from Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.


According to local media reports, the tourism ministry announced the country welcomed 253,136 foreign tourists during the first four months of the year, up 43.88% from 175,930 visits during the same period last year.

Asian tourists represented 60% of all trips with Thailand leading the supply chain with 37,333 visits. Japan supplied 21,779 trips followed by South Korea with 18,813 visits. China supplied 16,041 trips.

Europe was the second largest supply region with 15,251 French, 13,119 British and 11,289 Germans visiting the country.

Myanmar’s high season runs from September to the end of April, while there is a substantial drop in visits during the monsoon season.

Tourist arrivals passed the 1 million mark in 2012 and government officials are talking optimistically about attracting 3 million international tourist arrivals by 2015. From 2009 to 2012, tourism income almost tripled from US$196 million to US$534 million.

There is pent up travel demand after decades of sanctions that discouraged a healthy tourism growth.

Growth will be in two particular areas. Leisure travel will explode as travellers satisfy their curiosity about a country that was virtually closed to mass tourism for 30 plus years. But business travel is an equally strong sector mainly driven by investors seeking opportunities to exploit natural resources and win contracts to rebuild infrastructure including hotels.

Hotel development will focus mainly on the commercial capital Yangon, but there are also plans to build properties in the political capital Nay Pyi Taw, in the country’s second largest city, Mandalay and Bagan an iconic religious and historical destination that is waiting to gain World Heritage status. Other towns where hotel investors are checking out opportunities include Bago, Rakhine, Mawlamyine, Taunggyi, Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung.

At present, there are around 36 hotels open or under construction that have foreign investment content.

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