- By Kyaw Htaike Soe
Tourist arrivals to Myanmar via the country’s border checkpoints with Thailand have been increasing significantly this year and are expected to reach 1 million soon. The number of day-trippers from Thailand and other countries who visited Myanmar through Tachilek border gate in Eastern Shan State during the period from 1 January to 17 October this year totaled 998,560, according to the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism (DoHT).
The foreign visitors entered Myanmar via Tachilek to visit well-known destinations in Mongphyat and Kengtung on a one-day visit or overnight trip.The top locations for both day-trippers and visitors in Tachilek are local markets, Bayintnaung Statue, a shrine, a replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda, a religious edifice, Padaung ethnic village, Maha Myatmuni Buddha Image, and the Chinese temple. The Buddha footprint pagoda and an ancient monastery in Mongphyat and MahaMyatmuni Buddha Image, Chinese temples, monasteries, a standing Buddha statue, ThittapinTaung (One Tree Hill), Koehtat Waterfall, and Kaba-Aye Pagoda in Kengtung also became popular tourist destinations for overnight trippers. Some globetrotters tour Heho, Yangon, Mandalay, Myitkyina, Lashio and significant attraction sites across the country by air through Tachilek.
The number of tourists who enter Myanmar via Tachilek border checkpoint so far reached 998,560 including 926,718 day-sightseers and overnight-trippers from Thailand. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been making appropriate arrangements for wooingtourists to the country in a safe and secure manner. The ministry also organizes some travel itineraries for tourists who enter the country through border checkpoints. Under the management of the ministry and a private tour operator, 32 travellers from Thailand visited Myanmar in their own motorcars by crossing the Hteekhi border gate in Taninthayi Region on 27 September. Their travel itinerary took three days and included visits to Maungmakan Beach and the region’s capital city Dawei. They returned to Thailand via the Hteekhi border gate on 29 September.
Myanmar is rapidly gaining popularity among Thai visitors thanks to the country’s reward to citizens from seven ASEAN countries—Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines—to stay 14 days in the country without any visa. The number of Thai visitors to Myanmar is estimated to reach about 500,000 in one or two years, and about one million in five years, according to the Royal Thai embassy in Yangon. Thai tourists travel to Myanmar through international entry points and border checkpoints to enjoy its natural landscapes, tour attractive tourist destinations and observe a diverse range of cultures and traditions of ethnic tribes. The ease of visa restrictions on Asian tourists has considerably prompted the increase of tourist arrivals in the first nine months of 2019.
In addition, some restrictions were eased to attract more tourists to the country. With the prevalence of peace and stability coupled with a variety of scenic beauties, ancient cultural heritages, pagodas and natural beaches, tourist arrivals in Myanmar have increased significantly when compared to previous years. Myanmar set a target to attract seven million international visitors by 2020. Myanmar earned US$ 2 billion from 3.55 foreign visitor arrivals in 2018 and US$ 1.9 billion from 3.44 million tourist arrivals in 2017. Some tourists are very interested in the river cruise tours along Ayeyawady and Chindwin Rivers to enjoy the natural scenery of riverbed villages, visit elephant camps and observe living style of marine workers and traditional pottery industry.
The open season is about to begin in Myanmar and some globetrotters are continuously flocking to the country by car or motorbike or bicycle in either groups or crossing alone through border checkpoints to visit significant tourist attraction sites in the country.