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Myanmar Welcomes More Tourists in 2013

Myanmar estimates it could welcome 2 million foreign tourists to the country this year.

It managed to surpass the million mark in 2012 after decades of struggling against political sanctions that dampened the country’s travel appeal.

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Myanmar’s Vice President, Sai Mauk Kham, confirmed a sharp 58% rise in visits to the country up until August.

“Last year, about 1.06 million foreign tourists visited the country. We have already exceeded 1 million in eight months,” he said. “We could attract 1.8 million to 2 million tourists by the end of the year.”

But there are challenges. The country needs to deliver safe transport, good-quality hotels, restaurants and ensure tourists get value for money.

“More tourists bring more income for the country and new job opportunities for local people.”

2015 will be a milestone for Myanmar when most of the travel glitches will be smoothed out tourism leaders predicted.

It is also very likely that the country will allow 14 days visa free entry for all ASEAN citizens by 2015, when the ASEAN Economic Community comes into play. Once free trade principles are introduced it would be very difficult for Myanmar to justify not giving ASEAN member nation citizens the privilege of visa free entry.

Also it announced this week that Vietnamese citizens will gain visa-free arrival privileges 26 October. This is a breakthrough that will lead to similar arrangements for other ASEAN nations.

Tourism in Myanmar has shown positive signs since 2011. Last year, 1.06 million tourists visited the country, an increase of around 30%.

The country has about 30,000 hotel rooms. Another 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.

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