Burma will attract tourists looking for authentic travel experiences
Tourist arrivals in Burma, estimated to have been 300,000 in 2010, are still tiny compared to Thailand, which attracts 15 million people a year. But as the country slowly opens up following its first democratic elections in 20 years and the release from house arrest of the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, many are forecasting a boom for the country’s tourism economy.
Burma, which is also referred to as Mekong, is described as a land of mystical pagodas, clean beaches and ancient cities that can appeal to travellers looking for authentic experiences. In the past, Aung San Suu Kyi has urged tourists to go elsewhere, pointing to the alleged use of forced labour to build airports and luxury hotels. But on her release she told the newswire AP that “individuals coming in to see, to study the situation in the country might be a good idea”, although she cautioned against large-scale package tourism. Stays at smaller, privately owned hotels is now seen as a way of financially supporting the people of Burma without cash being taken by the state.
The number of those employed in travel and tourism is expected to rise from 1,228,000 jobs in 2010, 5.2% of total employment to 1,612,000 jobs, 5.6% of total employment by 2020, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.