The number of business people entering Burma is gaining on the number of tourists. Both groups totaled about half a million by the end of June and the number of arrivals is expected to reach 1 million before the end of the year.
|Central Rangoon Photo: Wikipedia|
Arrivals totaled 497,556 at the end of June.
A Ministry of Hotel and Tourism official said this year's rainy season has seen more arrivals than last year's. “The number of incoming tourists is on the upswing this monsoon season,” he said.
Statistics show that the number of inbound foreign tourists has jumped sharply from the three previous years.
The average number of daily travelers arriving at the Yangon International Airport is now 1,050, compared to 650 in 2010, and 700 in 2011.
Visitors enter the country through the air gateways of Yangon International Airport, Mandalay Tada-U Airport, Naypyitaw and Bagan Airport, in addition to many border checkpoints.
On July 11, Mizzima reported on a plan to extend visas-on-arrival to the Naypyitaw and Mandalay International airports for business travelers. Visa-on-arrivals have reportedly been in place at Yangon International Airport since June 1, but many visitors have said they are not available for tourists.
The special visas apply to visitors from 31 countries including member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, Britain, China, China's Hong Kong, plus Taiwan, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
A business visa for 70 days costs US$ 50 and a transit visa for 24 hours cost $20. Many tourists have complained that the tourist visa-on-arrival is not available at Yangon International Airport.
Myanmar earned $319 million dollars in 2011 from the hotel and tourism sector, up 26 per cent from $254 million dollars in 2010.
Recently, officials have called for more low and medium-priced hotels and guesthouses. Room rates in top quality hotels have soared in recent months, from around $40 to up to $300 a room. Luxury hotels are usually booked far in advance.
Most visitors are from China, Japan, Thailand and Korea – taking into account border crossings in addition to the country's international air hubs.
U.S and European tourists account for the highest totals of tourism income, accounting for up to 70 percent, according to official figures.