Burma On The Mainstream Radar
Tourist interest in Burma is on the rise since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy announced it would reduce its call for a tourism boycott in May 2011.
Tour guides are increasing the number of trips to the country, with some reporting that bookings have more than doubled in the past year, according to UK newspaper The Telegraph. This interest spurred international hotel chains Starwood and Marriott to express interest in setting up outposts in Burma during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
At present, Burma only has Asian-based hotel chains like Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which operates the Traders Hotel in Rangoon, Myanmar. Marriott and Starwood may be able to venture into the Burmese market when selected economic sanctions by the US, European Union and other countries are lifted, which may happen as early as next month after Burma’s by-election.
Last year, Burma welcomed more than 300,000 tourists – a small figure compared with Thailand’s 19 million. But with more demand and potential new hotel chains, it may only be a matter of time before Burma becomes a mainstream tourist destination.