7.5m visitors expected by 2019, says official

Myanmar hopes to attract 7.5 million tourists a year by 2019, two million more than the number of expected arrivals this year, a senior official said on August 2, AFP reported.

The tourist sector has enjoyed a boom since reforms began in 2011, with the number of arrivals jumping to 1.06 million in 2012 and 2.04 million in 2013.

Myanmar was on track this year to welcome 5.5 million tourists, nearly a million more than 2015, said U Tint Thwin, director-general of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

“We hope the number will grow to 7.5 million tourists per year within three years,” he said on the sidelines of a tourism conference in Yangon, AFP reported.

“We will try to find new destinations for tourists to visit and we will also support community-based tourism” in an effort to help raise incomes, he said.

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The challenges facing the industry include expensive hotels that often do not meet the standards of more traveller-friendly countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, AFP said.

There have also been incidents where tourist behaviour has clashed with the Buddhist-majority country’s conservative culture, it said, citing the Spanish tourist who was deported last month for having a Buddha image tattooed to his leg.

The authorities at Bagan have also struggled to ensure that a surge in tourist numbers there has not resulted in damage to its ancient temples.

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