MYANMAR attracted nearly 660,000 foreign visitors last year,
an increase of nearly 60,000 on 2003, show figures released by
the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Total earnings from tourism in 2004 were US$135 million, up
$20 million on the previous year, the figures show.
They show that 656,910 foreign travellers visited the country
in 2004, of whom 236,370 arrived through Yangon International
Airport, almost 38,000 more than in 2003.
Mandalay and Bagan airports accounted for 5568 arrivals last
year, down from 7175 in 2003.
Another 414,972 visitors, up from 391,405 in 2003, entered the
country through checkpoints on the borders with Thailand and China.
Many of the travellers who entered through border checkpoints
were on day return visits.
A breakdown of the arrivals through Yangon International Airport
in 2004 shows that 109,934 were independent travellers, 48,191
were on package tours and 40,521 were business travellers. Another
16,505 travelled to Myanmar to visit friends or relatives in Myanmar
and 21,219 entered the country for other purposes.
Of the 241,938 visitors who arrived through Yangon, Mandalay
and Bagan airports, tourists from Asian countries accounted for
146,774 (60.67 per cent), followed by 62,901 (26 per cent) from
Western Europe, and 19,260 (7.96 per cent) from North America.
Most of the visitors last year were again from Thailand, with
32,735 (13.53 per cent), followed by Taiwanese (20,424, or 8.44
per cent) and Japanese (20,296, or 8.39 per cent).
Germany accounted for most of the visitors from Western Europe,
with 14,112 (5.83 per cent), followed by France with 13,372 (5.53
per cent). Arrivals from Italy (7924, or 3.27 per cent) were next,
replacing the position Britons held in 2003. There were 7720 British
arrivals last year, or 3.19 per cent of the total.
Visitors from the United States totalled 16,432 (6.79 per cent),
an increase of 3176 on 2003.
Average daily spending by tourists in 2004 was $94, a $14 increase
on 2003, but the average stay declined slightly to seven days,
from 7.5 days.
There were 55 chartered flights last year which carried a total
of 4810 passengers, more than double the previous year’s
figures of 25 flights with 1829 passengers.
Another 1758 passengers arrived in cruise liners and 1679 entered
the country on yachting tours.
Independent travellers comprised 47 per cent of arrivals through
Yangon International Airport, an huge increase of more than 64
per cent over 2003.
Another 20 per cent were on package tours and 17 per cent were
business travellers, with 16 per cent listed in the ‘others’
By gender, 61 per cent of the arrivals were males and 58 per
cent of the visitors were aged between 21 and 50.
The figures also show that there are 596 hotels, motels and
guest houses throughout the country, of which Yangon accounted
for 161, seven more than in 2003. Another six hotels, motels or
guest houses opened in Mandalay, three in Bagan and one each at
Ngapali and Ngwe Saung beaches. The total number of rooms available
in 2004 increased by 1278, to 18,317.
The number of licensed tour guides increased by 200 to 6250.
The director of Tourism Promotion of the Ministry of Hotels
and Tourism, Daw Nyunt Nyunt Than, said promotions and easier
access to information were among the reasons for the big jump
in the number of independent travellers.
“Travellers can acquire the information we distribute
at tourism shows in foreign countries so they no longer have to
make prior arrangements with tour agencies,” she said.
Daw Nyunt Nyunt Than said the internet was another valuable
source of information for travellers planning to visit Myanmar.
Myanmar embassies also contributed to the increasing interest
in Myanmar by providing promotional material supplied by the ministry.
Another factor was support from regional organisations.
“Working with organisations such as the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations and the Greater Mekong Sub-region increases
our marketing reach and helps to maintain the momentum of our
activities,” Daw Nyunt Nyunt Than said.