Tourist numbers to Myanmar rise

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism recently released data showing that from January to September this year, more than 1.3 million foreign tourists visited Myanmar.

This represents 390,000 more visitors or a 41 percent rise compared to the same period last year

The ministry said the increase can be attributed to more visitors coming from Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea and China, which have been the targets of the government’s “Look-East policy” for tourism.

Tourists from China, Japan and South Korea have increased significantly since the government relaxed visa requirements for travellers from those countries in October last year, say tourism stakeholders.

Currently, visas on arrival are available for more than 50 countries at Myanmar’s international airports in Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw. The visas allow stays in Myanmar of up to 28 days. On October 1, the government also extended visas on arrival to visitors from Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Australia, as part of efforts to attract more travellers from western countries.

However, some travel and tour agencies say they have not seen western arrivals to match those in the past. Industry stakeholders and experts say the government has to do much more to woo western tourists and boost the country’s sluggish tourism industry.

U Than Naing, a Mandalay-based tour operator, lamented that tour season had already started when the easing of visa requirements for the six western countries took effect.

“Travel operators didn’t have much time to make preparation for this year’s tourism season as they learned about the visa relaxation for western countries just three months in advance,” he said, adding that only backpackers would be able to enjoy the new policy at this time.

From January to September this year, some 120,000 European travellers entered the country, a 1 percent decline compared to the same period a year ago, people in the hotels and tourism industry say.

Asked for comment Deputy Director Feneral of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Daw Khin Than Win declined to comment, saying that the ministry had not yet compiled the tourist arrival figures for October.

According to the ministry’s data, visitors to Myanmar from Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Poland stay an average of 14 days and are among the highest spenders during their stay.

Source :Myanmar Times

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