More than 2.4 tourists visited Myanmar from January to July this year, according to the statistics from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The ministry said that globetrotters that visited Myanmar in the first seven months this year totaled over 2.47 million, a 26 percent increase when compared to the same period last year. Arrivals of Chinese travellers to Myanmar increased by 151 percent this year compared to 2018, and topped the list of tourists to the country, according to the ministry.
China remained as the top foreign tourist market with 385,942 arrivals, followed by Thailand with 157,261 during this period. Japan came as third place with 69,756 arrivals, while South Korea ranked the fourth with 382,634 arrivals. The ease of visa restrictions on Asian tourists has significantly prompted the increase of tourist arrivals in the first seven months of 2019 to 2.14 million, up 420,000 compared with the same period last year. Myanmar received more than 3.5 million tourists in 2018, 40 percent of whom came from China. Some 650,000 Chinese visitors arrived in the first four months of 2019, an increase of 30 percent when compared to the same period last year, according to the ministry. Due to the sharp of Chinese travellers to Myanmar this year, more Chinese airlines are operating direct flights to the country.
The skyrocketing arrival of Chinese visitors to Myanmar had nearly doubled since visa restrictions were relaxed in October 2018. A total of 39,146 tourists from the United State visited Myanmar from January to July this year, an increase of 3 percent compared to the same period last year. But arrival of Europeans to Myanmar declined slightly when compared to last year. Myanmar is hoping to reach its target of attracting 7 million tourists by 2020. According to the figures from the ministry, Myanmar welcomed a total of 2.14 million globetrotters in the first six months of this year, a 24 percent increase compared to the same period last year. The ministry expects tourist arrivals to the country would reach 6 million after the rainy season. The government is exerting all possible ways to woo more tourists to the country by organizing international invitational sports events and showcasing cultural heritages and traditional food.
At the same time, the government has been launching new destinations and creating ecotourism for globetrotters as well as conducting language proficiency courses and basic tour guide training courses for human resource development. The government is much more involved in promoting the ecotourism in cooperation with private tour operators. The ministry has been making appropriate arrangements for attracting foreign visitors to the country in a safe and secure manner. The ministry also organized some travel itineraries for tourists who enter the country through border checkpoints. Some tourists enter the country by car or motorbike or bicycle in either groups or crossing alone through border checkpoints to visit significant tourist attraction sites in the country. Tourists are very interested in the river cruise tours along Ayeyawady and Chindwin Rivers to enjoy the natural scenery of riverbed villages, visit elephant camps and observe the living style of marine workers and traditional pottery industry.
Some tourists travel to Myanmar through border checkpoints to enjoy its natural landscapes, visit attractive spots and observe a diverse range of cultures and traditions of ethnic tribes. “Myanmar is a very promising country for the businessmen at home and abroad who want to operate tourism industry. Myanmar has plenty of natural resources including fantastic natural scenery, social status and traditional culture of the ethnic people. If tourism industry is developed in Myanmar, there will be more job opportunities for local people inevitably,” said an official from the ministry who declined to be named.