In the first three months of 2015, more than 100,000 foreign and domestic tourists visited the beach towns of Chaungthar and Ngwe saung in Ayeyarwaddy region, according to data from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
About 34,000 people visited Ngwe Saung and 70,000 visited Chaungthar during January to March, data shows.
Myanmar has beaches in Rakhine state in the west and in Mon state and Tanintharyi region in the south. However, Ngwe Saung and Chaungthar is only about five hours’ drive away from the commercial hub Yangon.
Due to the increased safety concerns associated with a greater number of visitors, more tourist police and security guards have been deployed in these areas, authorities say.
Tourist Police Chief Officer U Kyaw Kyaw said, “The number of tourists is increasing and security forces are here for their safety. They here to provide assistance so tourists may enjoy their time here.”
According to Ayeyarwaddy region’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, a total of 70,748 local and foreign tourists travelled to Ngwe Saung and 247,237 to Chaungthar in 2014.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism claims that the number of tourist entry to the country in 2011 was 0.82 million, 1.05 million in 2012, 2.04 million in 2013 and 3 million in last year, while it estimates a staggering 5 million tourist arrivals to Myanmar this year. However, the figures are disputed by most tourism experts.
Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbours Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia – with relatively developed tourism infrastructure – received 7.8 million, 9.4 million, 4.8 million, 4 million and 4.5 million international tourists respectively. Regional tourism powerhouses Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia received 24.7 million, 27.4 million and 16 million respectively.