Growing brand awareness, combined with investments in infrastructure, will drive development in Myanmar’s tourism industry this year and beyond, with record high inbound traffic forecast for 2016.
In late March the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism predicted 6m inbound tourists for 2016, up 25% on the 4.68m arrivals last year and far above the 2010 total of 800,000.
Though arrivals for last year fell short of the ministry’s forecast of 5m, officials and industry stakeholders have cited stronger growth for 2016 based on improved political and economic stability.
Tourism as an economic driver
In its latest profile on Myanmar, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reported that tourism had become a major driving force in the economy. According to the bank’s report, tourism revenues grew by 19% last year as inbound traffic increased, totalling $2.1bn, or more than 4% of GDP.
The bank expects tourism, resource exports and construction to be the leading sources of growth in Myanmar’s economy this year. Expansion in these sectors will help fuel projected GDP growth of 8.4% in 2016 and 8.3% in 2017.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is even more upbeat on prospects for the sector in the short-to-medium term. Over the coming 10 years, the WTTC projects that Myanmar’s tourism industry will rank second out of 184 countries for long-term growth and 15th globally in 2016.