MYANMAR’S long-secluded town of Mogok, renowned for ruby mines and gem markets, is emerging as a popular tourist destination as the process of gaining authorisation to visit the town becomes easier.
The mountain town had been off-limits to visitors for decades until the government allowed limited access in the mid-1990s. Permits were difficult to come by until Myanmar’s tourism industry gradually began to open alongside political reforms in 2011, leading to increased tourist numbers to lesser-known destinations.
Said Monlay, an executive for Kinnari Travels, which runs tours to Mogok: “We have certainly seen an increase in visitor numbers in the last two or three years and most visitors go there to trade and buy gems, and to visit some of the scenery around the town.
“But in order to go there, visitors need to get a permit from the Ministry (of Hotels and Tourism) and that takes about a week.”
Marcus Allender, founder of Go-Myanmar.com, also said foreigners can only access Mogok currently by private car with a permit, and “clearly this limits Mogok’s development as a tourist destination”.
Calling for greater liberalisation, he said: “If Mogok were to be freely accessible, then it clearly has potential as a tourism destination.”
The town is freely accessible by road from more established destinations such as Mandalay and Hsipaw, he highlighted.
Source: TTG Asia