Myanmar’s tourist industry has grown substantially on the back of recent moves its government has made to embrace democracy, with tourist arrivals rising by more than 50% over the last 12 months, according to its Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
ElevenMyanmar.com reports that the country saw almost 550,000 tourist arrivals via its main international gateway throughout 2012, compared to 359,000 arrivals the year before. In total, Myanmar saw more than one million tourist arrivals in 2012, compared to just 810,000 the previous year.
Officials said that the majority of visitors hailed from neighboring countries such as China and Thailand, as well as Germany and France. Visitors were split fairly evenly between those arriving as part of tour groups, and those that planned to travel independently, the ministry said.
Separately, business travel in the country also appears to be booming, with 114,000 arrivals in this category, up from around 70,000 in 2011.
With the number of visitors expected to surge even more this year, Myanmar is struggling to keep up with demand. The country is building new hotel zones at several key locations, including its commercial capital Yangon, and popular tourist sites such as Inle Lake in the north of Mount Popa in central Myanmar. ElevenMyanmar.com reports that the completion of these projects can’t come soon enough, with one of the biggest complaints among tourists being that room rates are too expensive and that available facilities fall short of standards elsewhere in the region.