Tourist Arrivals for 2015 Reached 4.68 Million, Ministry Says

People wait to see the sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the ancient city of Bagan, February 13, 2015. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters)

People wait to see the sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the ancient city of Bagan, February 13, 2015. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters)

RANGOON — Burma welcomed 4.68 million tourists in 2015, according to figures from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, another sizeable annual uptick representing a 52 percent increase on the previous year.

Tourist arrivals have surged since a quasi-civilian government took power under President Thein Sein, with the number of arrivals climbing from 800,000 in 2011 to 3.08 million in 2014, according to official statistics.

The ministry had previously stated a goal of between 4.5 to 5 million tourists in 2015.

However, industry observers have routinely questioned the government’s figures, which tally arrivals of all foreign passport holders at land and air entry points. The majority of travellers to Burma cross overland from Thailand through checkpoints in Tachileik, Shan State and Karen State’s Myawaddy, many on business.

According to an article in the state-run New Light of Myanmar on Monday, more than 800,000 tourists entered by air or ship in 2015.

For arrivals by air, Thai travellers accounted for over 200,000 tourist arrivals, followed by Chinese and Japanese nationals, according to Myo Win Nyunt, a director in the regulation department within the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

“We think our tourism sector is successful,” he told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. “We have nearly reached the expected figure of 5 million. More hotels are now opening and our government also encourages the tourism sector.”

Thadoe Thuzar Aung, general secretary of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and the managing director of Authentic Myanmar Travel & Tours, said she hoped the incoming government and industry stakeholders could cooperate for the benefit of the sector.

“The tourism industry is a business that can feed all people in the country,” she told The Irrawaddy.

“But it’s changing every day and we need to act on it. We need active stakeholders who can actually advise government and make checks and balances work effectively.”

According to the tourism ministry, there are currently just under 1,300 hotels around the country.

The ministry claimed that the sector generated US$1.78 billion in revenue in 2014. No data on revenue from the sector for last year has yet been released.

Under new immigration regulations, 12 types of single-entry visa and three types of multiple-entry visa have been made available, as of Jan. 11.

3 Responses to Tourist Arrivals for 2015 Reached 4.68 Million, Ministry Says

  1. Almost 4 million tourists crossed Thai-Myanmar border from Thailand into Myanmar for 45 minute stay just to renew their visa to stay longer in Thailand then. Since only 800,000 tourists entered into Myanmar by air and ship in 2015, Myanmar was not tourists’ choice yet until the end of military backed USDP reign. Thailand receives 800,000 tourists in two weeks.

  2. Oh, learn to face the truth. Otherwise the country can’t progress.
    Will 800,000 tourist feed 50 Million people?

  3. prof.Victor Buga USA ( Gawdawpalin Education Program)

    Dear Readers of Irrawaddy,
    Thank you for giving me a new chance to comment on Myanmar Tourism related issues on the pages of publication. In past articles, also carried by the foreign media, the issue of this Ministry publicized lie seems to be shamelessly popping up again and again.I would like to ask that person who releases to the press such distortions (4 million plus tourists crossing the Myanmar border in 2015) if he or she feels any remorse or shame.
    The comments preceding mine tell that all those who crossed, and still cross the Myanmar- Thai border for only 45 minutes just to renew their visas must do it on foot,maybe at Tachileik or some newly opened southern crossing point,and not by bus, car or tuk-tuk. Something tells me that most of them are Myanmar citizens living/working in Thailand, and in order to continue doing so, they need to extend their Thai visa.Forgive me if I am wrong, but my nose tells me that I am right.Whoever propagates such numbers must be living on the other side of the Moon.He or she would need a strong wake up call.He or she has no idea of the situation in Bagan following the recent monster earthquake. He or she has no idea how many trips to Myanmar, how many cancellations occurred during the time passed after Aug.24.
    I also happen to cover Myanmar and Bagan, as a Level 3 reviewer for the world famous TRIP ADVISOR, and moral education tells me to write the truth, good and also bad. Presently I have over 7000 readers from Myanmar, England, Australia, and the United States, and I would be ashamed to spread the continued lies of anybody concerning the true number of visitors, in 2015, to Myanmar.
    Would I like to see Myanmar welcome such a high number of tourists? It would be a dream come true. But the present situation is very different.Even the lifting of all sanctions, for which Her Excellency Daw Aung San Suu Kyi probably prayed day and night, could not make the tourist numbers jump to the sky. Why? 1. Myanmar doesn’t have Thailand’s infrastructure
    2. The number of planes carrying such a huge number of tourists
    simply doesn’t exist. Count the planes that you see on the tar-
    mac in Yangon at the end of the day, add, perhaps, those planes
    that spend overnight at various Myanmar airports
    3. Most, if not all, planes can carry around 80 passengers. They
    are not even European Airbuses(320) or American Boeing jets used
    for much shorter flights.
    4. Any foreigner entering Myanmar, for any length of time needs
    either a tourist visa for a 28 day stay, or a business visa for
    90 days for which a letter of invitation and a copy of the
    commercial license of the inviting party are to be enclosed with
    the visa application sent to the Myanmar Embassy for approval
    You may ask me: “How do you know so well these details, Sir”. Here is the answer if you care to read it: since the early 2000’s I have been running this English teaching charity program called the ” Gawdawpalin Education Program” co-founded with Mr. Oliver E.Soe Thet President of MCA, exclusively during the low season (call it the rainy season), mostly in Bagan and Ngapali Beach’s Laguna Lodge. We have supplied the students, all hotel employees, with some exceptions, who truly needed to learn enough English, to acquire enough fluency to be understood clearly by the foreign guests, skills helping them to build a wonderful future in Myanmar Tourism. Your article published in the same issue of The Irrawaddy, Government Green Lights Hotels in Bagan Archeological Zone, needs a few additional remarks. Huge crowds on the Shwesandaw waiting for the sunset…picture taken in January 2015,looks very different from the same pagoda’s picture following the monster earthquake.
    Please carry an article on which temples and pagodas can be visited.
    prof.Victor Buga (USA)

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