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 VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid