More travellers going abroad for Thingyan

The number of local holiday-makers who have booked vacations to foreign countries for the Myanmar New Year Thingyan Festival rose significantly compared with last year’s bookings, outbound tour operators said on Tuesday.

U Htike Lun Maung, managing director of New Motion Travel and Tours, said that his company had recorded a 15 percent rise in international bookings compared with 2017.

“The number of travelers has increased significantly as far as our tour company is concerned,” he said.

Last year, the government cut the number of Thingyan Festival holiday to five days from 10.

Myanmar travellers mostly visit Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bali, and Europe during the public holidays.

“It’s easy to get visas in Asian countries, and the prices of tour packages are affordable compared with European countries,” U Htike Lu Maung said.

“People whose businesses do well are taking their vacation in European countries.”

Other outbound tour operators also noted an increase in international bookings during the holidays, especially to Thailand and Vietnam, where the prices are affordable.

“A local itinerary costs about the same as a foreign one,” said U Thein Htike, manager of Nice Fare Travel Company.

“For instance, a Yangon-Kawthaung roundtrip air ticket is about K250,000, but the Yangon-Bangkok roundtrip air fare is only K100,000,” he said.

“That is why Myanmar people are going to foreign countries.”

While some business experts noted that the country’s business environment has not been very good in the past year as a consequence of the northern Rakhine crisis, many local travelers still want to visit foreign countries.

There are no signs of outbound tourism slowing down for the moment at least.

“More people are still visiting foreign countries compared to last year,” said Daw Zin Mar Aung, sales manager of Gandawun Shwe Bagan Travel and Tours.

But inbound tour operators are feeling the adverse effects of the northern Rakhine crisis.

“Foreign travelers coming to Myanmar are down by about 50 percent compared to last year,” she said.

Another tour operator based in Yangon said there are few people going on river cruises and hot air balloon rides because most of the people who do these activities are tourists from western countries.

However, they have stopped coming to Myanmar since violence erupted in northern Rakhine in August last year.

“Inbound tours will not be getting back to normal as long as there is instability in the political situation,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, 324,000 international visitors arrived in Myanmar in January, of which 136,000 arrived with visas while the remaining 188,000 were day-return travellers who entered through the country’s border checkpoints.

The number of travellers entering from bordering countries increased 1pc compared to the same period in January 2017, but the number of visa travelers was more or less unchanged, according to the ministry.

Source : Myanmar Times

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