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Myanmar's conflicting tourist industry is not on vacation
The 658 Korean Lotte Hotels & Resorts Yangon were opened on September 1 with little effort. Armed action that has led to world condemnations and accusations against the administration for "ethnic cleansing", "pogroms" and "genocide" is sad tidings for the Lotte Hotel and, more generally, for Myanmar's burgeoning tourist industries, although hotel operators and tourist agents have a bold face.
This has been the Myanmar travel business mantras for two years. In spite of its appeal as one of Asia's last untouched travel destination, with unspoilt sandy shores, untouched jungle, genuine culture adventures, Southeast Asia's only snow-capped hill and an abundance of antique Tibetan sanctuaries and sacred places, Myanmar is still well below average in the world' s traveling world.
Myanmar's former military-backed regimes began to carry out economical and policy reform in 2012, and an estimated 1.1 million visitors came to the country. At the end of 2015, the industry's top year, according to goverment pictures, this chart was worth 4. 7 million. However, these numbers conceal the real image.
Out of the 4. 7 million incoming passengers in 2015, about 3. According to the hotel and tourism ministry, 4 million were day-trippers from Thailand and China across Myanmar's neighborhood. By 2016, the overall number of tourists arriving in Myanmar fell to 2.9 million, driven by a 51% decline in the number of daily visitors across the country's northboundary, primarily due to new heavy conflict between Myanmar's armed forces and a fistful of ethnical uprisings in the country's northerly and northeast areas.
Yangon has a tendency for veteran tourists to follow the arrival of foreign travellers at Yangon Int'l International because they are the most reliable indicators of true numbers in terms of tourists. The number of people arriving internationally at Yangon in 2016 was 1,080,144, compared with 1,080,682 in the year before. However, even these numbers are exaggerating the number of tourists. A further good indication of the true number of tourists are the multinational tourists visiting Bagan, the United Nations World Heritage Site and Myanmar's most important travel destinations outside Yangon.
There were 280,000 boarder visitor to Bagan last year, as opposed to 2. 2 million internationals to Angkor Wat, the major tourist destination in Cambodia, another border country with safety issues. There were 280,000 visitor payers to Bagan last year. During the first half of 2017, Yangon Airport's global traffic increased by 10%, giving reason for some cause for hope that it would be a record year.
As the Rohingya refugees crises has hit the news worldwide, agencies and hotel reservations have been cancelled. The United Nations estimates that one of the fastest ways to generate employment and incomes in Myanmar, where 25% of the 53 million people are living below the country's GNP, is through this.
Myanmar's tourist industries have been suffering for many years from restrictions on the economy applied by the West and campaigning in the West to block trips to Myanmar in order not to support the prevailing army regime between 1988 and 2010. Though Myanmar has been headed by Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy since 2016, the country's umbra remains after its November 2015 election victor.
Neighbouring Thailand, which has been under army control since the last putsch in May 2014, moved 32. Last year, 6 million visitors brought the empire 46 billion US dollars in tourism expenditure. "As Laurent Kuenzle, CEO of Asian Trails, a Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam specialized tour operator, says, "Thailand will return very quickly, no matter what happens negatively, because that is the target country' sums up the country's ambassador.
In spite of its regular coup d'états and forced road protest, Thailand has been a favourite of popular tourist destinations since 1986, when the Thai government initiated the first Year. "Skyler doesn't have this picture," he said. It was under cruelty to the army for many years, suppressing former democratic supporters such as Suu Kyi and her NLD supporters and committing the horrors of the rebel tribes that they still do today, and tabooing large parts of the land for the tourist.
Rakhine is not the only focus of Myanmar's people. In addition to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) - as the youngest Rakhine rebel group has designed itself - there are half a half-ten riots in northern and northeast Myanmar, which have been at tattled with the Tatmadaw since 2011, when a group of former truces broke up.
Since there are still fights in these areas, they are limited to the tourism. Myanmar still has about 80 closed areas that keep many of the more unusual places off the maps. Since 2015, the Palaung area has been closed to international visitors because of the wars. As places like Namh San are inaccessible to visitors, the majority of spending on new properties has been made in the last five years in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan - the three major towns that visitors can certainly see.
A ray of hope for Myanmar's travel industry is that it is no longer affected by the shortage of rooms and the high fares it had in 2012, when the number of tourists arriving in Myanmar exceeded the million euro high. At that time Myanmar had about 800 of the country's most popular hotel, motel and guesthouse establishments with 28,000 rooms. Up to 2016 the number of 1,432 establishments, 56,429 rooms, 59% of them in Bagan, Mandalay, Naypyitaw (the capital) and Yangon, were located.
Yangon is experiencing a flood of tourists, especially in the five-star sector. In addition to Lotte Hotel & Resort, the Pan Pacific Group in Singapore opened a five-star facility in Yangon this year. The Kempinski, Pullman and Excelsior brands will also be opening their doors in the former German capitol in the next few month. "It' s frightening for the five-star hotels," says Tony Picon, CEO of Colliers International/Myanmar, an internationally based real estate counsel.
" However, that may be all Myanmar's tourist industry has to offer today.