5 million foreign tourists to visit Myanmar by April
THE tourism industry in Myanmar shows good prospects for 2016, with increasing number of tourists expected to arrive throughout the year.
Tourist arrivals, as of the end of November last year, reached more than 4.2 million. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism estimates that the number will rise to 5 million by April 2016. Myanmar attracted US$2.64 billion in foreign investment in 47 projects in the hotels and tourism sector in 2015, up $1.5 billion from 2011’s $1.14 billion in 36 projects.
Of the total foreign investment in the sector in 2015, Singapore accounted for $1.47 billion, the highest among any country, followed by Viet Nam with $440 million. The development of the tourism sector in Myanmar in 2016 depends on the progress of investments in the previous year as well as the global and regional economies.
According to the ministry’s Master Plan for 2013-2020, tourist arrivals per year are projected to hit 7.49 million in 2020.
Tourists from neighbouring countries frequently visit Myanmar on motorbikes, bicycles and boats under the arrangements by tour companies in cooperation with the ministry. A rising number of foreign tourists have been taking river cruises since the beginning of the tourism season, which generally begins at the beginning of the year.
The cruise liner MS Seven Sea Voyage, which is carrying 699 passengers and 447 crew members, will arrive in Myanmar for a three-day visit on 23 January. Several more cruise ships carrying tourists are set to dock in Myanmar in January and February. According to official statistics, Myanmar welcomed 25 luxury cruise ships carrying 26,000 visitors last year.Moreover, the foreign tourists are signing up for Chindwin river cruises, which offer views of Myanmar’s natural landscape and encounters with ethnic minority communities and their cultures.
The number of tourism companies in the country rose from 1,670 in 2014 to 1,922 today. Of them, 1,822 are locally owned.
New hotels are also sprouting up across the country to accommodate the increasing number of tourists, according to the Myanmar Hoteliers Association. A total of 340 hotels were operating in Myanmar in 2015, compared to 290 in 2014, according to U Tin Win, chairman of the Myanmar Hoteliers Association.
Meanwhile, the government has established 17 hotel zones in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Bago regions.
Tourist arrivals through Yangon International Airport amounted to 759,181 in the first nine months of 2015, up 82,174 from 677,007 tourists in the same period last year. More than 800,000 tourists entered Myanmar by air and ship last year, while more than 2.2 million tourists visited the country through border entrances.
Tourist arrivals are highest in the Yangon, Mandalay, Inle and Bagan hotel zones. The number of tourist arrivals in Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, reached 306,432 in 2015, up 26 percent from 242,566 in 2014. Mandalay, which was the last royal capital of Myanmar, has a population of just over 1.2 million, according to the latest census.
The majority of foreign tourists come from China, Thailand, France, Germany and the US.
At present, eight domestic airlines and five international airlines are operating services in Mandalay, and plans are underway to expand international flights and airline access to Mandalay.
Under the new system, 12 types of entry visa and three types of re-entry visa are available for foreign travelers to facilitate their visits to Myanmar. Visas-on-arrival are also available at three Myanmar international