Myanmar targets 4.5m tourists in 2015

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has set an ambitious target, aiming to draw 4.5 million foreign visitors this year.

The visitors are expected to spend US$2 billion in the country.

According to Myo Win Nyunt, a director, the ministry has been busy enlarging travel zones and making other infrastructure improvement to help tourists.

“The ministry has also been relaxing rules to allow more local and foreign operators in the tourism sector,” said Myo Win Nyunt.

The visitor target showed a 50 per cent increase from 3.5 million last year, which was the historical record for the country that just opened its doors to outsiders in 2011. Last year, visitors generated $1.14 billion.

Visitor arrivals have increased sharply since 2011, from below 1 million then to 2 million in 2013. Yet, growth opportunity is huge given that the 2014 numbers of 3 million represented only a tiny portion of 97.2 million entering the entire Asean bloc in the year. The visitor arrivals to Asean expanded by 3 per cent from 2013. Intra-regional travellers accounted for 53 per cent of total arrivals.

Tourism revenue

Year/amount (US$ m)/No. of visitors

2012/534 /1.05 million

2013/926 /2 million

2014/1,140/3.5 million

Source: Ministry of Hotels and Tourism

Most visitors to Myanmar last year were from Asia, especially from Thailand, Japan and China, which made up 67 per cent of tourist arrivals. It is also proved popular among British travellers. Myanmar is one of top 10 country destinations in a survey by British travel magazine, Wanderlust Travel. Bagan is also the only city from Myanmar making to the top 10 cities list, being the second after Laos’ Luang Prabang.

Aside from Bagan, travellers have been drawn to new destinations.

In December last year, ocean tourism in the Myeik Archipelago in Kawthoung District, Taninthayi Region, generated more than $85,000 in December – a record high – according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Kawthoung District. Atotal of 601 tourists visited the archipelagos in Myeik Township. Most visitors came from France, Germany, Switzerland, Thailand and China.

Government officials from Myanmar held discussions with counterparts from Thailand, where the tourism sector is well developed, in December 2014 to discuss tourism development projects. The government has also been developing the tourism sector in conjunction with Germany, Norway, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Australia and Italy.

The Myanmar Tourism Master Plan is currently being implemented with $500 million provided by Norway and the Asian Development Bank. Myanmar is planning for tourist arrivals to reach 7.5 million in 2020.

The government recently floated the idea to open the Tourism Development Bank this year, to provide financing for facility development projects, tour companies and related businesses. According to Tin Tun Aung, co-general secretary of the Myanmar Tourism Federation, the bank has already received permission from the government to begin its operations.

Many foreign hotel chains have opened and plan several hotels in various cities. Aggregate foreign investment in the hotel and tourism sector has reached $1.9 billion with 42 companies granted licences to construct hotels across the country mostly in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Kawthoung, Techilek and Myeik, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration


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