By Kyaw Htike Soe
Tourist arrivals in Mandalay Region recorded over 680,000 last year, up more than 190,000 from the same period of 2018, according to the figures from the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism (DoHT) under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Mandalay Region welcomed around 500,000 tourists in 2018 with China being the biggest source of foreign travellers, accounting for nearly 48 per cent of overall tourist arrivals in the Myanmar’s central region, said an official from the DoHT.
The DoHT has conducted the tourist arrival survey in Mandalay Region since 2016. “The number of globetrotters from European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom, and United States to Mandalay Region was on the increase slightly when compared to 2018. But arrivals of Chinese visitors and tourists from some countries that Myanmar has given visa free entry saw a boost significantly,” he said. Mandalay Region experienced an influx of tourists around the world after Bagan Archaeological Zone was officially inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO last year.
Due to sharp arrival of Chinese tourists to Mandalay Region, local authorities are exerting efforts to further create new travel destinations and promote the tourism industry by allowing foreign airlines to expand flight operations in the region.
Majority of tourists travelled to Mandalay Region by flights. Around 20 international airlines currently offer flight services to Mandalay Region with new routes due to great air travel demand as the Myanmar’s central region is expected to become an emerging aviation market. “The number of Chinese airlines alone operating in Mandalay Region has increased to 16 in total. Meanwhile, other domestic airlines also expanded flight operations in Mandalay Region. So the number of tourist arrivals to Mandalay Region via TadaU International Airport rose by 102 per cent in 2019 when compared to the same period of 2018,” he added. Previously, only five Chinese airlines operated commercial flights between Myanmar and China, he said. The visa exemption and relaxation for tourists from some countries was thought to be a major factor in boosting the tourism industry.
Globetrotters spent most of their time visiting tourist attractions sites in Mandalay Region including the Myanansankyaw Golden Palace, Mandalay Hill, Mahamuni Buddha Temple, U Bein Bridge, the Golden Temple, Ahtumashi Monastery, Bagan and PyinOoLwin.
The local government is trying its utmost to lure more tourists to the region by organizing international invitational sports events, workshops, and seminars and showcasing cultural heritages and traditional food.
The local government launched sport tourism, explored new destinations, created ecotourism for globetrotters, and conducted language proficiency courses and basic tour guide training courses for human resource development. The local government has been carrying out conservation works for ancient cultural heritages in collaboration with respective ministries with the intention of attracting more foreign visitors to the region.
Tourists are very interested in enjoying the river cruise tours along Ayeyawady and Chindwin Rivers to experience the natural scenery of riverbed villages, visit elephant camps and observe living style of marine workers and traditional pottery industry. Some tourists travel to Myanmar through border checkpoints to enjoy its natural landscapes, visit popular travel destinations and observe a diverse range of cultures and traditions of ethnic tribes. Most tourists visit Myanmar by air, waterways as well as land with the majority entering the country by air. With the prevalence of peace and stability coupled with a variety of scenic beauties, ancient cultural heritages, and pagodas, tourist arrivals in Mandalay Region is likely to increase than that of previous year.
The local government set a target to attract 500,000 tourists in 2019 but the number of international travellers to the region passed the mark. Mandalay Region attracted 385,031 foreign visitors in 2016, welcomed 483,784 foreigners in 2017 and received 492,097 tourists in 2018.