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Tour operators are reporting increasing interest in Myeik

The shortage of tourism in the Myeik Archipelago has not prevented a rising number of travelers from travelling to the remotest place in southern Myanmar. This year, a tourism operator specialising in the brokerage of trips to the area announced a significant rise in the number of packages that have been reserved so far year-on-year.

"We have more reservations this year than last year on the Myeik Archipelago," said Daw Aye Mya Oo, Mergui Princess Tourism and Management Team. "By October last year we had only got a few reservations for November, and in the end we got 30 packages for the whole season[from November to April]," she said.

"But this year we have already reserved more than 30 packages for November alone, which is more than the whole of last year," she said. Mergui Princess' packages can take from two to six persons, she added, and the airline provides various itineraries where customers can travel the island of the island from a boat.

The Myeik Arcipelago is made up of more than 800 islets covering an area of 36,000 sqkm. Aye Mya Oo said the archipelago's main tourist attraction is snorkelling and canoeing, as well as watching the life style of the Salone of" Seagypsies", also known as Moken in Thailand and Malaysia.

Aye Mya Oo said that the trip to Myeik Archipelago goes beyond the means of most international travelers, but this could be changed in the near term as the tourist industry in the area evolves. However, if Myeik were supported in a way that attracts more travelers, the cost would decrease," she said.

Mr U Zaw Win Ko, CEO of Yangon-based Asia Whale Travelling and Touroperator, said most travellers are exploring Myeik from live-aboard vessels, many of which depart from Phuket, Thailand. "Most Myeik attendees go on packages. For example, our firm provides specific programmes tailored to our clients' needs, such as yachting, snorkelling, salon lifestyles studies and other adventures," he said.

The saloons remain on the island during the wet seasons, but on board their vessels during the drought, which is the same as the tourism time. "During the drought we can watch the Salone ships so that people can see how they live," he said. The Germans make up about half of their company's customers for Myeik, the remainder are mainly from France and America, Daw Aye Mya Oo said.

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