Hot air balloons to fill skies over new destinations in Myanmar

Golden Express Tours launched a hot air balloon operation named Golden Eagle Ballooning in Myanmar’s ancient city Bagan last November.   Photo Credit to mymagicalmyanmar.com
Golden Express Tours launched a hot air balloon operation named Golden Eagle Ballooning in Myanmar’s ancient city Bagan last November. Photo Credit to mymagicalmyanmar.com

Yangon, 19 Feb — With the sharp rise in tourist arrivals, which crossed the 3 million mark last year, Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is planning to boost the country’s hot air balloon ride business.
It will conduct a feasibility study for the expansion of hot air balloon flights in the areas of Inlay, Mandalay, Sagaing and Monywa that are major tourist attraction sites in the country, the ministry said on Tuesday.
Standing second in the list of the most beautiful hot air balloon rides in the world, Bagan in Myanmar offers one of life’s great thrills to visitors to explore the country by a hot-air balloon.
With the country’s booming tourism sector, ballooning over Bagan, which started in 1999, has become popular amongst globetrotters. Three companies, Balloons Over Bagan, Myanmar Ballooning Co., Ltd and Golden Express Tours Co., Ltd, are now operating balloon services in Bagan with a total 21 balloons, according to the ministry.
Balloon rides in Bagan are available twice a day, in the morning and evening. A 45-minute hot air balloon flight above Bagan’s pagoda-studded landscape is priced in the range of $250 to $380 per person.
“The price is reasonable here. The prices for riding a hot-air balloon were just a bit cheaper here than other places, where it is priced at at least $400 for a flight,” U Tint Naung, managing director of Golden Express Tours, told The Global New Light of Myanmar on Thursday. “Bagan is the best place to ensure the safe operation of a hot-air balloon.”
Although tourists from Europe and the US are major customers for balloon rides in Bagan, those from Japan, South Korea and China have gradually become balloon-ride passengers as well.
Despite being suspended from April to September each year, business for hot-air ballooning is particularly brisk during Christmas and Chinese Lunar New Year, added U Tint Naung who operates a balloon flight business with three Swiss pilots, one Spanish pilot and 40 ground crew.
Balloon-ride passengers reached 17,802 in 2014, up from 11,362 in 2013 and revenues from the business jumped to $4.23 million in 2014 from $3.10 million in 2013, the ministry said.
With significant progress in tourism since 2012, Myanmar’s tourism boom is on track along with the hot air balloon business growth, expecting to welcome more hordes of travelers from around the world, possibly 7.5 million by 2020. — GNLM

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