Myanmar’s rising tourist numbers fuelled by backpackers

FOLLOWING record-breaking numbers in 2014, Myanmar’s tourist arrivals were slightly up in the first five months of 2015, propelled by growing numbers of independent travellers as group tours slow.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, 447,520 tourists came into the country via the main gateway of Yangon International Airport from January to May, while 410,444 travellers visited during the same period last year.

Citing information from the ministry, Aye Nyein Win, sales and marketing manager of Yangon-based Orchestra Travel and Tours, said: “Group tour arrivals through travel agencies have slightly declined compared to last year and more tourists are arriving through online bookings nowadays. The hotel room rate has also dropped a little compared to last year.”

From January to February this year, 28,705 tourists arrived on package group tours while 82,544 were FITs, with many FITs arriving from Spain and Italy, she said.

“However, I still expect better business this coming season and I am sure overall arrivals for 2015 will likely set a new record of arrivals,” she added.

Asian countries accounted for 312,645 of Myanmar’s arrivals from January to May, making up more than 70 per cent of its visitors. The largest group hailed from Thailand with 68,652 arrivals, followed by China with 43,546 tourists and Japan with 35,799 visitors, said ministry data.

European nationals accounted for 81,221 visitors, led by France with 18,113 and followed by the UK at 16,789.

Similarly, Kaung Min Khant, managing director of Asia Central Link Travel and Tour in Yangon, said more budget travellers are arriving than group package tours.

“Many backpackers are arriving but they don’t really contribute a lot to the GDP. I hope there will be more group package arrivals in this year’s peak season.”

He added that arrivals from Thailand, China and Vietnam are also rising.

Source: TTG Asia

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