Myanmar tourism statistics are finally been released. They confirm that tourism bounced back last year, passing again the three-million visitors’ mark. This represented a growth 18.5% over 2016. However, cleaned from border gateways’ arrivals, ‘real’ tourists reached last year 1.36 million, a more moderate growth of 7% over 2016.
2017 finally marked a turn-around for Myanmar tourism which officially saw foreign visitors’ arrivals jumping by a whooping 18.5%, reaching last year 3.44 million, after a decline to 2.91 million in 2016. When cleaned of arrivals at border gateways’ arrivals, total foreign visitors to the country reached last year 1.36 million, back to its level of 2015 (1.30 million that year).This was a growth of 7%, which was more in line with other countries tourism growth in the region.
While there was definitely an improvement in tourist arrivals due to more flights and the opportunity to have an e-visa to enter into the country, Myanmar tourism performance has been affected by a worsening image in many countries due to the violence around the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. It has been reflected by declines in some Muslim markets or in countries which are sensitive to human rights issues: Australia, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and of course the Middle-East showed declines last year while tourist arrivals stagnated or slightly grew from Germany, Japan, Korea or the Netherlands. Western Europe just grew by 0.6% last year to reach 239,358 arrivals.
The final 7% growth was mostly influenced by Asian countries. Top performer has been (surprisingly) Singapore with total arrivals up by 23.2% with close to 62,000 visitors last year. Singapore became the sixth largest source of inbound tourism for Myanmar last year, lifted by two ranks over 2016. Vietnam was the second fastest growing market in 2017 with total arrivals up by 20.6%, equivalent to 59,000 entries.
Two other Asian countries boosted also arrivals last year. It is no surprise but China confirmed its position as Myanmar second largest inbound market. In 2017, China sent to Myanmar 212,642 travellers, up by 15.6%. Thailand however continues to remain Myanmar largest market. Last year Thai arrivals, reached 274,000, up by 12.5%. The proximity of both countries and a high number of flights between Myanmar and Thailand continues to stimulate the market.
Last year, they were 1.2 million seats available between Yangon and Bangkok with an additional 38,610 seats between Chiang Mai and Yangon, 193,806 seats between Mandalay and Bangkok as well as 21,060 seats from Nai Pyi Taw to Bangkok.
From Europe, France consolidated its position as the largest source market. Last year, French arrivals progressed by 11.6% to 58,369 visitors, proving that French travellers remain committed to a country well-known for its rich culture and history.