News / Asia

Tourism Surge Presents New Problems for Burma

A western tourist poses for a photograph with a Buddhist monk at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, Burma, May 31, 2012.
A western tourist poses for a photograph with a Buddhist monk at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, Burma, May 31, 2012.
Ron Corben
BANGKOK — Tourism is the latest indicator of change in Burma, with tourist and business arrivals up more than 30 percent. In the first seven months of this year there were about 300,000 arrivals, nearly the same number as for all of 2011.

Visitors from Thailand represented the largest group from Asia, followed by Japan, China and South Korea. European nationals accounted for nearly a quarter of Burma's visitors.

A Korean tourist buys a tee-shirt at a shop in Rangoon on March 29, 2012.
A Korean tourist buys a tee-shirt at a shop in Rangoon on March 29, 2012.


By 2014, when Burma plans to host the annual meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations, arrivals are forecast to climb to nearly a million.
 
There are presently 25,000 hotel rooms across Burma - also known as Myanmar - with 8,000 rooms in the commercial capital of Rangoon.
 
But the rapid growth has led to bottlenecks for tour operators and increasing competition for rooms between tourists and business travelers.
 
Luzi Matzig, a veteran of the travel industry and chief executive of the Bangkok-based Asian Trails, says the rapid expansion of tourism in Burma has been unprecedented.
 
“We never had any country with such a rapid growth - an explosion of growth," said Matzig. "Never happen. Our problem now in number of passengers - we can hardly grow because there simply isn’t the capacity there in hotel rooms or transport.”
 
Matzig says there are complaints by tour operators of escalating hotel room rates and an inability to secure advance contracts for blocks of rooms.
 
The easing of long standing economic sanctions against Burma due to an improved human rights record has brought a flood of business travelers, he adds. Some companies are block booking rooms that would normally have been occupied by tourists.
 
Burma’s deputy minister for hotels and tourism, Htay Aung, says while the growth is welcomed it has created new challenges, especially a need to upgrade human resources and infrastructure.
 
“We need to upgrade the standards, standards of services - very important," Aung said. "The second thing is transportation - domestic transportation - and also upgrade of the hotels, the existing hotels. We have to upgrade the existing tourist sites in the same way, also open up the new tourist sites.”
 
Burma is now planning for a new international airport close to Rangoon as well as increasing the number of rooms in the city by converting apartments to hotels, adding a further 500 rooms this year.
 
The Asian Development Bank is preparing a tourism master plan for Burma. Regional air carriers are also increasing services.
 
ADB economist, Alfredo Perdiguero, says infrastructure and human development are key constraints on the economy.
 
“The transport, there’s still a lot of obstacles both in the ports and a lot of obstacles across borders, Perdiguero said. "If you look at the capacities you need to have employees. We have certain capacities but due to the deterioration of the vocational training and the university system - both in Myanmar and within the [last] 20 to 30 years - they don’t have that.”
 
The government says its tourism policy aims to help ease poverty and empower women, with a “steady” growth of arrivals to benefit local communities and the long-term development of Burma.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid