Myanmar open to TourismBurma open to tourism
Myanmar has only opened after 50 years. Where are all the people?
Yangon, Myanmar - It has the shores and temple and culture to compete with those of the beloved travel destination Thailand and Malaysia. Myanmar (also known as Burma) has some breathtaking places to see. However, here is the problem: it is difficult to find visitors.
Early this weekend, more than 357,159 visitors came to Myanmar in the first nine month of the year. Myanmar will take another year or two before it exceeds 1 million tourist per year, says U Naung Naung Han, General Sectretary of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.
Whilst this small number contributes to its attraction as an off-path traveler, in comparison to the 15 million to 20 million visitors that see Thailand and Malaysia each year, Myanmar still has a long way to go to take advantage of a tourism industry resulting from five years of army -inspired overwibber.
"It took China 78 years to open and more than 30 years to become one of the top 5 tourist destination in the world," he says, and adds that China's location was in a better location than Myanmar because of its dimensions to accommodate a large number of tourists. "Many travel agencies have tried for many years to draw crowds, but there was unstable politics and the crowd was hesitant to visit," says U Naung Naung Han.
But he says things are indeed good as more and more perceptions of the current Burmese authorities' on-going economical and policy reform and Burma's leaders Aung San Suu Kyi has abandoned her long-standing advocacy for a tourism ban as a means of depriving Myanmar's army regimes of revenues and legit.
While Myanmar's tourism numbers remain low, investors' attendance is increasing, indicating a lack of facilities and asking whether Myanmar is actually willing to attract more people. In the Central Hotel in Yangon, Ko Ko Ko Ko Naing, head of sales, says that the company has grown by 30 to 40 per cent in the last two years.
When asked what needs to be changed to stimulate Myanmar's tourist industry, Ko Ko Ko Naing answers in one word: "Infrastructure", and adds that better streets and railways and a more dependable energy source are needed. In spite of the many physical assets that are so enticing for prospective investment, only 25 per cent of Myanmar's residents have electric energy, and even then there are widespread outages.
"If it' s 40° Celsius, the people want to be sure that the air conditioning works," says Ko Ko Ko Naing.