Myanmar for TouristsBurma for tourists
Myanmar tourist industry shines with Myanmar crises
Now is a good place to go if you don't like annoying tourist masses and looking for value for your money. Now is a good moment to be. Rakhine - the violent war on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's west Rakhine state, which began last August and sent 700,000 people across the Bangladesh frontier, renewing the country's paraiah-state as a mass offender - is beginning to weigh on the tourist industry.
Myanmar's governmental Global New Light of Myanmar recently confirmed that the number of tourists arriving in Myanmar had declined by 3% in the first three month of 2018, especially among Westerners. Recent Yangon Airport internationals recorded a small 1% drop in January-April, but strong declines from North America (17%), Western Europe (27%) and Oceania (18%).
These three areas are the traditional Myanmar's primary resource for highly-paying tourists interested in the country's heritage and culture. According to industrial resources, the Rakhine has provoked accusations of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" at the United Nations and human right groups, especially among tourists from the West.
"It is an ethics problem, especially for the West," said Philippe Arnaud, general director of the soon-to-open Excelsior Hotel in Yangon. There used to be high expectations that the tourist industry would be booming after former President Thein initiated His policy and economical reform, which ended most Westerner sanction in 2012.
However, these expectations were somewhat clouded in the same year by the first eruption of anti-Rohingya uprisings and the ensuing bombing in Rakhine. The Myanmar government has been noticeably gradual in curbing the impact on the tourist sector, one of the few industries that offers a huge effect on the mass of jobless and under-employed people in Myanmar.
Myanmar's touristic sector is not new to the negative effects of low levels of public awareness and politics. In the early years, the strong man Ne Win's army regimen (1962-88) prohibited tourists from arriving and later limited the number of visitors to one whole sunday. Following the overthrow of Ne Win, subsequent army régimes (1988 to 2011) opened the land to foreign travellers, but they were confronted with major issues such as imposing business penalties, granting the West Pari refugee status for blatant violations of humanitarian law and, last but not least, calling on the "democracy icon" Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters of the National League for Democracy not only to go on boycotting trips to the state.
Since the opening of the state in recent years, the sector has been a roller coaster trip. Corresponding to nations dates, touristic arrivals leapt from 800,000 in 2010 to a peak of 4. 7 million in 2015, down to 2. 9 million in 2016 and up again to 3. 4 million last year.
Yangon International Airport received 1 million passengers, 7% more than in the previous year, mainly due to larger flights to Asia. Aung San Suu Kyi became a State Council in early 2016 following the NLD's victory in the November 2015 elections, giving a new" politically correct" attitude to travel, which quickly vanished in August-September last year with the military's crack-down in Rakhine and Aung San Suu Kyi's unwillingness to denounce the violent events.
Industrial circles say that the real effects of the Rakhine crisis on the travel business will not be felt until later this year, as many hotels and tours were booked as early as August, when the Rohingya fugitive myth began to take off. The contribution of the tourist trade to the GNP cannot be the same as in neighbouring Thailand, which is 35 years old.
In 2017, 4 million tourists, but it has become a precious resource for jobs and investment in hotel, restaurant and leisure facilities. Rakhine comes at a juncture when Myanmar, and Yangon in particular, is experiencing a booming opening of new luxurious properties. The Pullman Yangon Centrepoint Hotel opened its gates for businesses in Yangon city centre on 24 February with a two to three year lag and a few name changes.
We' re fortunate that we only have a certain number of rooms to fill," said Marshall Orton, operations director of the hospital. Yangon Excelsior, a 74-room shop in the city centre, is due to open at the end of June, while the 166-room Kempinski Yangon Hermitage Resort on Strand Road will open some of its premises later this year.
Pullman, which also offers several internationally renowned hotels and pubs and plenty of room for congresses and conferences, is already giving Sule Shangri-La Yangon - once the only internationally renowned commercial establishment in the city - a run for its bucks. Combinations of more rooms and fewer tourists are driving prices down across the board. 2.
With the imminent emergence of the Excelsior and Kempinski real estate, both in renovated UK-Colonial-style buildings, the historic Strand and Governor's Residence will be challenging the historic establishments that achieved top prices during the mini-tourism booming Myanmar. Had the Rakhine event not occurred last year, the small explosion would probably have lasted well into the upcoming high seasons, which begin with the colder November weathers.
Whereas the number of tourists arriving from the West has fallen sharply this year, the number of Asians arriving from China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand has risen slightly, especially from China. Some of the new luxurious properties are now targeting well-off travellers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, rather than the anticipated drop in interest from Myanmar's long-established European and US hub.
Contrary to the ethics of some West tourists, "the Asiatic markets don't care," said Arnaud, general director of the Excelsior Hotel.