Myanmar will celebrate 2016 as “Visit Myanmar Year” to attract greater number of tourists, deputy minister for hotels and tourism Dr Tin Shwe announced.
The former military government conducted a similar campaign in 1996, which failed to even bring in half of the target of 500,000 visitors, according to official data.
With the sweeping reforms Myanmar has recently undergone, along with political, social and economic achievements gained in cooperation with local and international organisations, the tourism sector’s development has been gaining pace since 2011, Dr Tin Shwe said.
Foreign visitors entering Myanmar have been increasing sharply, up from 0.82 million in 2011 to 1.06 million in 2012 and 2.01 million in 2013, and with 1.82 million visitors having entered the country by the end of August, the total entry this year is expected to pass 3 million, he said.
As of now there are around 1,100 hotels throughout the country, while Yangon boasts 267 hotels with over 12,000 rooms. Because of this, it is not very hard to implement the Visit Myanmar Year campaign, Dr Tin Shwe added.
Visit Myanmar Year 2016 is one strategic component of the government’s Tourism Master Plan, which also involves increasing connectivity and raising domestic quality of service.
Myanmar needs to revive the campaign, which was last implemented 18 years ago, said U Hla Tun, executive member of the Union of Myanmar Tourism Association (UMTA), adding that other countries usually carry out such campaigns every two years.
“We should have made 2013 a Visit Myanmar Year as the world economic forum was held that year. Malaysia has set this year as a tourism year as they are hosting the world economic forum,” he told Myanmar Business Today.