Myanmar is showing increasing signs of interest in the tourism sector, and could be a serious competitor for Thailand in the next decade. Myanmar has lured some 1.92 million U.S. dollars in foreign investment to boost its hotel and tourism sector during the current 2013-14 fiscal year, according to official figures.

Of the total investment, Singapore accounted for 880 million dollars, the highest among all countries and regions that have invested in the sector. It was followed by Thailand with 235 million dollars, Japan with 183 million dollars and China’s Hong Kong with 150 million dollars. The investment has been channeled into 39 projects in the sector, with some of them already being completed, some are under construction and some being contracted.

There are a total of 34,834 hotel rooms in 923 hotels, motels and guest houses across the country, according to the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has granted operation license to a total of 1,350 tourism companies including one foreign company, 25 joint ventures and 1,324 local companies.

It has also issued 196 tourism-related transport licenses and 3, 667 tour guide licenses. According to the Myanmar Investment Commission, it has allowed more investment in the hotel building and manufacturing sectors this month, creating new job opportunities.

To meet the growing demand for hotels, the ministry has approved the establishment of 11 more hotel zones in three regions of the country, namely Yangon, Mandalay and Taninthayi where there are tourist attractions. Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals is expected to rise this year as many foreign visitors are destined to visit Myanmar to attend ASEAN summits to be hosted by Myanmar during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014.

Last year, Myanmar attracted over 2 million tourists, of whom 1. 14 million entered through border gates and 885,476 through airports. Of the visitors entering through border crossings, those from Thailand and China were taking the lead. In the wake of dramatic increase in tourist arrivals, Myanmar has planned to introduce travel insurance services. However, the number of applicants is still low.

To enhance development of its tourism industry, Myanmar opened four entry and exit gates on the Myanmar-Thai border in August last year, which include Tachileik-Maesai, Myawaddy-Maesot, Tiki- Sunarong and Kawthoung-Ranong. Visa-on-arrival for visitors from 48 countries and regions were also offered to facilitate their travel to the country. Myanmar targets 3 million tourist arrivals in 2014. Myanmar attracts foreign investment to boost tourism | Shanghai Daily

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