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The sex industry and tourism: Realities and challenges

Sex work is less out in the open in Myanmar than in Thailand. Contacts between foreign clients and night workers are often arranged in Yangon’s discos and nightclubs. Photo: Hein Htet
Sex work is less out in the open in Myanmar than in Thailand. Foreign clients often meet sex workers in Yangon's nightclubs. Photo: Hein Htet

“Will Myanmar become like Thailand?”

It is a question at the forefront of discussion on Myanmar's rapidly growing tourism sector and it is usually about sex tourists.

Written by Published in Travel & Tourism

Get-on-your-bikeIt’s true that riding a bicycle in downtown Yangon is illegal, but that doesn’t stop the group of more than 40 cyclists who join the weekly Friday night ride. Gathering at the Bike World shop off Pyay Road near Inya Lake at 10:00pm, they head out in a pack, stopping for drinks downtown before arriving back to Bike World about midnight.

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Thanbyuzayat provides dark memories for the few surviving slave labourers who worked on the last stretch of what became known as the Death Railway, the Japanese Imperial Army’s World War II drive to lay sleepers and rail line to link Myanmar with Thailand during its war campaign.

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Bodh-Gaya
Myanmar's Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is opening up outbound tour opportunities for tour companies with a plan to issue licenses. A growing number of Myanmar citizens are seeking to go to India on Buddhist pilgrimages as well as other destinations in the region. Buddhist devotees at the Mahabodhi Mahavihar in Bodh Gaya, India. Photo: EPA/STR

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has a plan to give out licenses for outbound tours and has asked tourism business operators to give them feedback.

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Selling umbrellas to tourists in Myanmar. Photo: Mizzima
 Selling umbrellas to tourists in Myanmar. Photo: Mizzima

Tourist arrivals in Myanmar are certain to exceed the expected number of over 3 million with over 100,000 more arrivals in the first week of December alone, according to a press release by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on December 17.

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As part of the drive to attract more tourists, Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism plans to develop the hill resort town of Thandaung in Kayin State, according to Minister U Htay Aung on a recent visit when he met with the local authorities and townspeople.

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