Myanmar tourism soars while Thailand faces slump in visitors
Myanmar has been fast emerging as a favourite Asian travel destination since the last three years when its new government and many reforms opened up the country to the world for the first time in many years. One of the main reasons for its popularity is, no doubt, its natural beauty which offers many choices from snowy mountain ranges and coastal beaches to plains to visitors. Another reason is that tourists are generally more curious about this country which has only lately become accessible to them. Recently, its historical significance and heritage has been acknowledged by the UNESCO –which designated its ancient Pyu kingdom cities as a world heritage site for the first time—which will lead to an increase in the number of travelers too.
Myanmar has chased tourism rather aggressively, trying its best to make most of its popularity now that the many sanctions have been removed. Opening 22 international air routes, Myanmar has accommodated the rising popularity by increasing connectivity to most major airports including Qatar and Japan. The government had previously announced that it plans to expand the airport by nearly half its size at present, increasing its capacity from 2.7 to 3.8 million passengers in 2011.
Other sectors – like hospitality – in the country have also prospered because of tourism. Travel agencies and guides have shot up while local and inter-state transportation have been bettered to a large degree. Another factor which has added to Myanmar being increasingly chosen by tourists travelling to southeast Asia is the fact that nearby Thailand’s tourism industry seems to have taken a hit because of the political instability in the region. The bustling tourist favourite which had for long enjoyed a permanent spot on itineraries of most travellers is dealing with a slump, with projected tourist arrivals falling by more than 2 million this year, according to a report in the Myanmar Times. Due to this, more and more crowds have been flocking to Myanmar, almost as if diverted there, making Bangkok’s loss Myanmar’s gain. Obviously, Myanmar has not been affected by its neighbouring country’s troubles in the least.
While packing for your trip to Southeast Asia, there are a few rules that you should bear in mind to make your vacation relaxing. Firstly, make sure that the phone you are travelling with is unlocked as otherwise you won’t be able to put a local sim in it, in all likelihood. Another helpful piece of advice is carrying ear plugs which can turn your overnight bus/train journeys into a breeze. Also, carry slippers which you can slip in and out of, since these countries have a lot of religious sites which require you to enter barefeet. Of course, the most important thing to remember is to ensure that you have the right travel insurance.
A handy tip to remember about Myanmar is that your travel insurance mayl not hold in places that are designated as unsafe areas. Having said that, there are plenty of good offers going around, which include evacuation services under £100.