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Ngapali beach, Myanmar (photo: Myanmar Tourism)

Myanmar hopeful about tourism comeback

Although arrivals from Western countries have plummeted since the Rohingya crisis, there are signs of a turnaround.

Despite signs of a tourism boom some years ago, Myanmar saw arrival figures from Western countries decline during the Rohingya crisis of 2016-17, a downward trend that continued in 2018. But the travel trade is hopeful for a rebound this year, TTG Asia reports.

The year has already started on a positive note, as Myanmar Tourism Marketing reports 160,000 tourist arrivals in January 2019, up 20% year-on-year.

International brands like Courtyard by Marriott and Sheraton will soon open in the biggest city Yangon, backed up by their own powerful sales teams. Rosewood Yangon, meanwhile, will be Dallas-based luxury company Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ first property in Myanmar and seventh in Asia.

The American Society of Travel Advisors opened a chapter in Myanmar in January and aims to work on a variety of projects such as a Myanmar Road Show and a pavilion at the ASTA Global Convention in August.

Metro, a German retail and wholesale company, thinks its recently announced entry into Myanmar will encourage greater trade, tourism and hospitality engagements in the country.

Meanwhile, a new foreign investment law enables foreigners to buy 35% of shares of a local company, such as a local guesthouse, restaurant, bar or hotel.

Rakhine beaches
Even in troubled Rakhine State, home to a large population of Rohingya Muslims, the first Rakhine Investment Fair took place in beach-side Ngapali in February.

This was a first attempt to attract investors to join help develop the state, including its hotel and tourism sector and was co-organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan External Trade Organization.

“As the last frontier of Southeast Asia, Myanmar presents immense potential for foreign investment. And we continue to believe that tourism is a good way to connect people and bring development and peace all over the country for any race or religion,” said Myanmar Tourism Marketing chair May Myat Mon Win.

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