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Tourism Can Lead to Growth Despite Constraints: Official

The tourism industry has become a focal point of the development of Myanmar’s economy, said Dr Wah Wah Maung, deputy director at the Foreign Relations Department under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

“Tourism sector can be seen as ‘business for development’. This sector will inevitably create job opportunities, help improve transportation infrastructure and customer service at hotels and restaurants. It will develop handicraft and other small businesses, and create more jobs as well,” Dr Wah Wah Maung said.

For the development of the country’s economy, it is important that tourism businesses not only increase in size but also improve their service and technology, she added.

She said tourism businesses in Myanmar depend on changing circumstances, and the effects must be mitigated. “For example, the tourism sector has a specific travel season. They cannot really operate during the monsoon season. This could become a major constraint for growth.”

Myanmar is currently attempting long-term economic development through foreign direct investments, SME growth and the establishment of special economic zones. The tourism industry also became a major attraction for local and foreign investors as the country opens up from decades of isolation.

In terms of tourist arrivals, the first two months of this year registered about 7 percent increase over the same period in 2014. The number of foreign visitors arriving in the first two months of 2015 through Yangon International Airport stood at 193,891, up from 180,927 in the first two months of 2014. More than 3.05 million tourists arrived in 2014, spending $1.14 billion, according to official figures.

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