Data released by the Tourism Federation of Myanmar reports a 10% increase in international visitors passing through its three major international airports.
These are: Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon which was the country’s capital city until 2006, Mandalay and the countries current capital city Nay Pyi Taw.
The figures quoted state 562,848 visitors passed through these 3 international airports. This figure excludes international travellers who entered the country via overland borders and would suggest that actual figures for international tourists visiting the country during this period is significantly higher.
The half year figures revealed that most international visitors were from neighbouring Thailand with around 110,000 visitors or just short of 20% of the total. 70,000 visitors from China’s mainland were next with increased numbers arriving from Singapore, European countries France, their neighbours Germany and Switzerland. Another country with an increased influx of visitors was India.
It is clear that despite this recent growth, Myanmar has some way to go in terms of consolidating themselves as a major tourist venue amongst the other ASEAN countries. It’s international visitor numbers are second lowest in the region. The nation of Brunei welcomes the lowest number of international tourists overall.
Despite this fact, the Tourism Federation is bullish about continuing increases with plans to attract rapidly growing numbers of international visitors between the 2nd half of 2017 and 2020.
On the face of things, the federation has every right to believe tourism will flourish over the next 3.5 years. The country is ripe for international tourists looking for an unspoiled destination.
There is already 1 UNESCO recognized world heritage site; The Ancient Cities of PYU, with 14 other sites on a tentative list.
The country has more than 2,000Km of coastline featuring largely deserted tropical beaches, an excess of 4,000 islands offering dive sites that are world-class. Inland lakes, Rain forests and mountains that are snow-capped.
Throw into the mix ethnic groups numbering more than 135, civilisations dating back over 1,000 years and a culture rich in heritage that is the largest mainland ASEAN country.
Other tempting proposition in terms of international visitors relate to two of its huge neighbours. Myanmar is located strategically between Mainland China to the North and India to the West. It is also the shortest shipping route between Europe and any ASEAN country.
These are just some of the reasons that Myanmar should look confidently towards a future where international tourism prospers. In turn, this will provide much needed tourist revenue as well as international investment.