CHIANGRAI TIMES – Now that Myanmar is opening its doors to travellers from around the world, the country’s officials are planning their approach to tourism.
Governmental reforms now mean that Myanmar is becoming Southeast Asia’s newest must-see destination.
Myanmar tourism officials welcome the reforms but understand the challenges that lie ahead.
Kyi Kyi Aye, advisor, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, said: “Myanmar has the ambition – we are ambitious people – to promote and we want to endorse and promote responsible tourism as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.”
Myanmar received around 400,000 tourists last year and that number is expected to grow to a staggering 65 percent in 2012.
Myanmar has an opportunity that few countries have had – they’re able to build their tourism sector practically from the ground up, they have the ability to see their neighbours successes and failures.
With Vast new investment the building and infrastructure upgrades have already begun.
With international standard hotel rooms in high demand, rates have doubled or tripled in the city of Yangon.
U Htay Aung, Deputy Tourism Minister, cautioned businesses that tourists could just as easily be turned off by the jacked up prices.
And along with high prices comes the fact that the country’s banking system can’t process credit cards and instead transactions are routed through Singapore.
But officials reassured participants at this year’s Mekong Tourism Forum in Chiang Rai that the travellers will be able to use credit cards freely within two months.
They said getting a visa will be easier as well.
The goal for the tourism sector, Kyi Kyi Aye said, is to make Myanmar not just a better place to visit, but a better place to live.