Burma’s tourism arrivals jumped 37.5 per cent compared to the same period last year, topping around 300,000 visitors in the first seven months of the year compared to last year.
Business travellers rose more than 60 per cent, while the number of package tourists was up a more modest 15 per cent, the figures show.
From January to the end of July, 299,529 foreign visitors passed through Yangon International Airport and border crossings, up from 217,837 during the first seven months of last year, according to an article in the Myanmar Times.
More than 60 per cent of visitors were from Asian countries, including about 48,014 from Thailand – the largest single group by nationality – followed by Japan with 23,242, China with 22,283 and South Korea with 17,799, the ministry said.
European nationals accounted for 65,300 visitors, representing 23.3 per cent of total arrivals. France led the way with 15,094, followed by the United Kingdom (11,124) and Germany (10,077).
The figures also showed that FITs made up the single largest group with 118,493 visitors, followed by package tourists (61,661), business travellers (60,979) and social visa holders (20,323).
The growth is expected to continue into late 2012 and early 2013, with industry sources predicting growth of about 30 per cent during the coming peak season, which runs from October through to April.
But there are major questions over whether the industry has the capacity to meet the needs in terms of hotel rooms, and other infrastructure arreas. More than half a million foreign visitors are expected to enter Burma in 2012.
Dr. Aung Myat Kyaw, managing director of Orchestra Travel, said the industry was near capacity and there were growing concerns over the lack of hotels, high room rates and other prices, low transport capacity, poor infrastructure and inefficient booking systems.
“The tourism industry will need to see more investment to cope with future increases in tourist numbers,” he said.