Phyoe Wai Yar Zar was unequivocal: “Tourism in Myanmar is still in its infancy“, admitted the chairman of the national tourism marketing organization to journalists at ITB Berlin 2014. Increasing numbers of vacationers and business travellers are discovering this country, located between China and India, which only opened its borders three years ago.
But it would seem that Myanmar is not yet fully prepared for a large influx of visitors. Its tourism infrastructure is bursting at the seams, or is non-existant.
As recently as March 2012 experts were predicting some 910,000 foreign visitors for 2013. In the end it was officially announced that more than 2 million had been recorded, a 93 per cent increase over 2012. 55 per cent of them came as individuals or as package tourists, and 19 per cent were business travellers. The construction sector is now working feverishly to cope with the rising demand for accommodation suitable for meeting the needs of international guests. The country currently has 960 hotels, motels and guest houses, with a total of 36,500 rooms, but only 23 establishments are of four or five star standard. In the near future a further 2,000 rooms will become available.
A master plan that was approved last September is intended to resolve this dilemma by 2020, formulating six strategic objectives and 25 concrete recommendations and areas for implementation. Tourism minister Htay Aung summarized these efforts in one sentence: “The Myanmar Tourism Master Plan is our roadmap for the future of sustainable tourism.“