Travel

Myanmar aims for one million visitors

File photo of novice Buddhist monks riding a rickshaw back to their monastery in Yangon. — Reuters picFile photo of novice Buddhist monks riding a rickshaw back to their monastery in Yangon. — Reuters picYANGON, March 17 — Myanmar is aiming to attract one million visitors this year as its tourism boom continues, according to reports.

The country, which had been a pariah state for over a decade before initiating a host of political reforms last year, welcomed 816,369 tourists in 2011, up from 791,505 in 2010, according to government figures.

Now, authorities are aiming to hit the magical one million figures, reports TTR Weekly, as interest in the country grows.

That milestone is likely to be significantly helped by a host of positive editorials from the world’s travel publications, including being named by Wanderlust as one of the hottest destinations for 2012 and earning second spot in Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries for 2012.

According to reports, tour operators specialising in Southeast Asia have been receiving strong demand for Myanmar-bound trips, with Intrepid Travel adding a further 36 departures for its Best of Burma tour and Wendy Wu tours restarting operations in the country following a three-year hiatus.

Official statistics suggest that most visitors to Myanmar enter through land borders, such as those connecting with neighbouring Thailand, already a hotspot for the independent travellers Myanmar is trying to appeal to.

Others arrive by air into Yangon International Airport, which the government is planning to significantly expand to accommodate more planes and passengers — 16 international airlines currently serve the terminals.

While there seems little doubt that travel to the country is booming, one sticking point in the not-so-distant future could be the number of hotel rooms — the country has just 25,000, with some 8,000 in the capital Yangon, although six international hotels are reported to be under construction. — AFP-Relaxnews

 

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