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25 January 2010

Myanmar reports 25% increase in visitor arrivals in 2009

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Tourist arrivals to Myanmar jumped 25 percent in 2009, despite the global recession and the economic sanctions imposed on the pariah state, local media reports said Sunday.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, more than 227,400 tourists visited the country between January and December 2009, more than 25 percent up on the 170,812 recorded for the year 2008, the Myanmar Times reported.

Some 148,000 of Myanmar's visitors last year were from Asian countries, including 42,700 from Thailand and 23,634 visitors from China.

Another 14,400 visitors were from the United States which has imposed economic sanctions on the military-run country since 1988 when the army brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protests, leaving an estimated 3,000 dead.

A total of 47,161 tourists from European countries visited Myanmar in 2009, representing 20 percent of total arrivals. The largest group of European visitors was from France, with 10,225 visitors, followed by Germany with 8788 visitors.

Werner Rumpf, managing director of Sun Birds Travel, who has been involved in Myanmar tourism for more than 10 years, said the European market had done much to sustain the country's infrastructure in recent years.

“Myanmar is the number one growing destination in Asia, and it's remarkable that nobody else says that openly and clearly,” Rumpf told the Myanmar Times, an English-language weekly.


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