MYANMAR’s tourism stakeholders have expressed concern over the lack of hotel and transport capacity in the country, even as the government has revealed it is considering the implementation of tourist-friendly policies in the areas of hotel development, air access and visas (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 13, 2012).
Figures provided by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show arrival numbers jumped more than 26 per cent in the first 11 months of 2011, following a record-breaking 2010. More than 343,000 tourists visited Myanmar between January 1 and November 30 last year, up from 271,547 during the same period in 2010.
A source from the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) confirmed that the country was enjoying “solid increases” in tourist numbers, with all major hotels in Yangon and other key destinations being consistently booked out. An arrivals increase of at least 20-25 per cent is targeted for the 2011/2012 fiscal year, which ends in March.
While growth in 2011 was driven by inbound from Asia, a shift in clientele is expected next year, with more bookings from the US, Australia and the UK, which in the past mostly adhered to tourism boycott policies.
Daw May Myat Mon Win, assistant general manager for marketing and operations at Yangon’s Chatrium Hotel, said: “There will be a significant increase in leisure travellers from the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Australia from 2012 onwards.”
She said the number of business travellers would also increase with the opening up of the economy. Key leisure destinations such as Bagan, Inle and Ngapali would attract the high-end of the leisure market, while Yangon, as the key commercial hub, would see more of the corporate market.
“I feel the increase (in arrivals) will not be lower than 25 per cent,” she said. “That means the rates will definitely go up to cater for increased demand.”