Tourism players are hopeful that a string of new flights will boost inbound tourism to Myanmar.
In recent months, a number of airlines have started operating new routes connecting China with Myanmar, with other international airlines announcing imminent flights. Chinese destinations include new routes to Hangzhou, Shanghai and Wuhan.
Last month, Indian LCC IndiGo Airlines started daily direct flights from Kolkata to Yangon. Last year, Indian passport holders were granted visa-on-arrivals (VoAs) in a bid to bolster interest in Myanmar.
From December 10, 2019, Dubai-based LCC flydubai will also launch daily flights from Dubai to Yangon and the Thai island of Krabi, which is operated via a stop in Yangon in Myanmar.
The new direct flights to Yangon International Airport will give passengers easier access to Myanmar.
Khiri Travel Myanmar’s managing director Edwin Briels said: “International flights will always help to boost tourism greatly.”
He predicted the flight between Yangon and Krabi will be particularly appealing to travellers wanting to combine the two destinations. “Clients visiting the Thai beaches can easily combine their trip with a culture experience in Myanmar,” he said.
Sammy Samuels, managing director of Myanmar Shalom Travels, added that the opening of new routes by LCCs flydubai and Indigo Airlines offers affordable access to Myanmar.
“This move will be good for travellers looking to explore Myanmar on an affordable airfare. There are also more people from Myanmar travelling aboard. I am sure airlines are interested in those as well,” he said.
With 10 airlines now flying between Myanmar and about 15 different Chinese destinations, hopes are high that the industry can tap into the high-end segment.
Briels noted that in light of an increase in “highly-educated and culturally-interested travellers” from across Asia, including China. To cater to this growing demand, Khiri Travel Myanmar employs Chinese-speaking staff.
Added Briels: “Just as from any other market, we also see Chinese clients in the higher segment who are interested in culture, history and good food.”
However, Hla Aye, managing director of Yangon-based Shan Yoma Travel & Tours, said more direct flights from Europe are needed for Myanmar to truly get back on track.