Tourism arrivals in Myanmar expected to decline this year

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Souvenir shop in Bagan © Arno Maierbrugger

Significantly fewer visitor arrivals from Western countries will cause an overall decline in tourism numbers in Myanmar this year, according to local tour operators. This and other problems in the country’s tourism industry, together with overinvestment in hotels, have already led to an oversupply of hotel rooms, latest figures released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show.

According to the Union of Myanmar Travel Association, vacationers from Western countries have been canceling their bookings following the unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as a sign of criticism over how Myanmar’s army is handling the crisis with the local minority there.

Expectations are that the number of visitors from Western countries is likely to decline by 20 to 30 per cent this year. Tourist arrivals from Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China, which are stable or have been on the rise, will not be strong enough to compensate for the restraint by Westerners to visit Myanmar.

Overall, arrivals have fallen three per cent in the first three months of 2018. Latest international arrival figures from the shiny, newly upgraded and expanded Yangon International Airport, the country’s main entry gateway for tourists, also showed a slight decline of one per cent during the January-April period, but big drops from North America (17 per cent), Western Europe (27 per cent) and Australia/New Zealand (18 per cent). A recent visit by Investvine in Myanmar showed that the airport is in fact operating clearly under its capacity.

The present situation in Myanmar is much different from the boom years between 2011 and 2013 under former president Thein Sein who launched political and economic reforms that led to the end of most Western sanctions.

Tourist arrivals grew from 800,000 in 2010 to 3.8 million in 2014 – in the same year a new e-visa was launched – and were close to five million in 2015, a record high. However, in 2016, with the new government in power and after the outbreak of the Rohingya crisis, the number dropped to 2.9 million arrivals, only to recover slowly to 3.44 million in 2017 and to face another negative outlook for 2018. This is far behind the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s announcement in its 2013 tourism master plan to attract 7.5 million international visitors by 2020 to the country.

Meanwhile, the previous confidence into a booming tourism market has led to overinvestment in the hotel industry. As of March 2018, there were 1,628 hotels and guesthouses with 65,470 rooms across the country, official data shows. More properties by major players are slated to open their doors this year despite falling visitor numbers, which naturally will lead to eroding prices and result in a lot of stress for hoteliers who are now directing their marketing strategies towards  travelers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea to at least partly make up for the steep drop in visits from Westerners.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Souvenir shop in Bagan © Arno Maierbrugger

Significantly fewer visitor arrivals from Western countries will cause an overall decline in tourism numbers in Myanmar this year, according to local tour operators. This and other problems in the country’s tourism industry, together with overinvestment in hotels, have already led to an oversupply of hotel rooms, latest figures released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Souvenir shop in Bagan © Arno Maierbrugger

Significantly fewer visitor arrivals from Western countries will cause an overall decline in tourism numbers in Myanmar this year, according to local tour operators. This and other problems in the country’s tourism industry, together with overinvestment in hotels, have already led to an oversupply of hotel rooms, latest figures released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show.

According to the Union of Myanmar Travel Association, vacationers from Western countries have been canceling their bookings following the unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as a sign of criticism over how Myanmar’s army is handling the crisis with the local minority there.

Expectations are that the number of visitors from Western countries is likely to decline by 20 to 30 per cent this year. Tourist arrivals from Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China, which are stable or have been on the rise, will not be strong enough to compensate for the restraint by Westerners to visit Myanmar.

Overall, arrivals have fallen three per cent in the first three months of 2018. Latest international arrival figures from the shiny, newly upgraded and expanded Yangon International Airport, the country’s main entry gateway for tourists, also showed a slight decline of one per cent during the January-April period, but big drops from North America (17 per cent), Western Europe (27 per cent) and Australia/New Zealand (18 per cent). A recent visit by Investvine in Myanmar showed that the airport is in fact operating clearly under its capacity.

The present situation in Myanmar is much different from the boom years between 2011 and 2013 under former president Thein Sein who launched political and economic reforms that led to the end of most Western sanctions.

Tourist arrivals grew from 800,000 in 2010 to 3.8 million in 2014 – in the same year a new e-visa was launched – and were close to five million in 2015, a record high. However, in 2016, with the new government in power and after the outbreak of the Rohingya crisis, the number dropped to 2.9 million arrivals, only to recover slowly to 3.44 million in 2017 and to face another negative outlook for 2018. This is far behind the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s announcement in its 2013 tourism master plan to attract 7.5 million international visitors by 2020 to the country.

Meanwhile, the previous confidence into a booming tourism market has led to overinvestment in the hotel industry. As of March 2018, there were 1,628 hotels and guesthouses with 65,470 rooms across the country, official data shows. More properties by major players are slated to open their doors this year despite falling visitor numbers, which naturally will lead to eroding prices and result in a lot of stress for hoteliers who are now directing their marketing strategies towards  travelers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea to at least partly make up for the steep drop in visits from Westerners.

 

 

.

 

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