Myanmar eyes 5m international arrivals next year

Myanmar’s international arrivals are expected to exceed 5 million next year as the country’s private sector strengthens its overseas marketing, including in Thailand.

Representatives of 17 hotels, resorts, restaurants and airlines from Myanmar were in Bangkok yesterday to meet with local buyers at the “Asean Travel Business Matching” event, organised by the Thai Travel Agents Association.

Agents from Myanmar were the biggest group among the Asean sellers at this year’s matching event.

Tin Kyi Min, director of business development at Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, which was established last year, said the carrier planned to operate international routes next year from Yangon to Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore.

The network expansion is expected to boost the number of international tourists visiting Myanmar.

“The [tourism-related] private sector has a very bright future, with the number of tourists coming to Myanmar rising from 3 million in 2013 to 4.5 million this year, and the number is expected to pass 5 million next year,” she said.

The Yangon-based airline, which currently operates to 12 cities in Myanmar, has two new ATR aircraft scheduled to be delivered next year. It also plans to lease one Airbus and another ATR, she added.

In Myanmar, five airlines are operating in the domestic market and only one presently services international destinations, Myanmar Airways International.

Zin Lay Wai, operation manager of Dawei Beauty, a travel business focused on the southern region of Myanmar, said the company was now marketing outside the country to promote local destinations and seek new business.

Thailand is one of the targets, along with Cambodia, Vietnam and the United States.

She said the company’s customers were not only tourists, but also business travellers as its southern-Myanmar focus took in the area of the Dawai deep-sea port project and special economic zone. Yukiko Sekihara, assistant resident manager of Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, said the resort is one of three properties operated by the company.

The other two, both in Yangon, are an office building, the Sakura Tower, and a residential tower building.

All three properties are owned by a Japanese investment firm that entered Myanmar 18 years ago.

“We are in Thailand to promote our properties for foreigners, both tourists and expats, and we have received very good signs from here,” she said.

Last year, more than 3 million tourists visited Myanmar, with Asean markets accounting for about 70 per cent of the arrivals, followed by European markets such as the United Kingdom and Germany.

A similar number of tourists is officially expected this year. In July, arrivals came in at 195,446, rising from 175,636 in June. January was the year’s best month to date, at 269,045 arrivals.


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