Myanmar tackles Europe’s dip with VOAs

Shwezigon Paya, a Buddhist temple located in Nyaung-U, a town near Bagan

To recover from falling European arrival numbers, Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) is looking into offering visas on arrival (VOA) to countries in the region.

Acting director-general of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism, MOHT, Khin Than Win, told TTG Asia that while overall tourism arrivals to Myanmar for 2018 rose by 3.2 per cent to 3.6 million, the European market posted a dip due to media coverage on the conflict in the Rakhine region.

Offering VOAs could be a way to aid recovery of European markets to Myanmar

The increase in overall arrivals were attributed to visa relaxations that were implemented across countries in Asia such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Believing that visa relaxations would draw in more tourists from the longhaul markets, Khin Than Win shared: “We would like to extend this to European countries – Germany, Italy, Spain, France and more – because European visitors stay longer and spend more money than Asians.”

As such, the minister of hotels and tourism Ohn Maung will attend the International Tourism Fair in Spain later this month and ITB Berlin in March to explore which European countries that VOAs should be offered to.

In anticipation of further tourism growth thanks to a host of hotel signings, the ministry also plans to enhance its tourism facilities.

“We need to build more infrastructure such as roads, railroads, rest areas and clean toilets in tourist destinations. Our boutique hotels and signage boards also need to be improved.

“More airports and incoming flights to bring more tourists landing directly in (our secondary) destinations are also required,” she elaborated.

Khin Than Win added that Myanmar’s regional and state governments have been developing infrastructure in their territories, which has been “very supportive for tourism”.

In 2019, the country will host a line-up of events such as roadshows and B2B fam trips, as well as participate in travel marts such as ATF, PATA, CITM and WTM, where the ministry will market its new tourism brand, Myanmar: Be Enchanted, launched in September last year.

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