Foreign Visitor Numbers Up Despite Dip in Western Tourists
By San Yamin Aung 19 November 2018
YANGON— The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says Myanmar received more than 2.8 million foreign visitors this year through the end of October, a slight increase compared to the same period last year.
According to the ministry’s latest figures, 2,844,508 tourists arrived during the first 10 months of the year, up 1.2 percent from 2017. This year’s number included 1.1 million visitors with visas and 1.7 million without.
Visitors from Western countries have been falling. Those from Western and Eastern Europe dropped 26.2 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively. Those from North America fell 14.6 percent.
On the other hand, tourist arrivals from Asian countries have jumped, accounting for nearly 77 percent of arrivals with visas.
With some travel guides shunning Myanmar following the violence in northern Rakhine State, and many Western travellers cancelling their bookings, local tour operators had expected foreign arrivals from the West to slump.
U Thet Lwin Toe, chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Associations, said within a month of the easing of visa requirements for tourists from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau in October, visitor numbers from those destinations have soared.
But he urged the government to adopt policies that encourage those visitors to spend more of their money on local businesses.
In 2017, Myanmar received 3.44 million visitors. The Hotels and Tourism Ministry aims to hit 4 million visitors by the end of 2018.