||Asean Affairs 28 May 2013
Myanmar tourism to go upmarket?
Players in the tourism industry believe Myanmar should concentrate on developing the luxury market for the sector.
They say the country will be able to cash in on this segment as it gradually opens up to the international community.
Picturesque landscape and unspoilt attractions greet visitors as they explore Myanmar but the country's tourism sector remains undeveloped as it has kept its doors closed for decades.
That has sparked curiosity and excitement among many in the hospitality industry.
Marc Dardenne, CEO of Patina Hotels & Resorts, said: "It is virgin land for the tourism business so everything is to be made here. It is a country with such rich cultural heritage. It is really a destination that is untapped, especially our brand, Patina Hotels and Resorts, which is an ultra-luxury hotel brand, is looking for specific experiences and I think Myanmar somehow ticks all those boxes.
"This experimental hospitality, the cultural adventure, the memorable experiences, that is what we are striving for and Myanmar has all those attributes."
Myanmar is certainly tapping on the interest that foreigners have in the country by welcoming tourists with open arms now.
However, many are advising it to focus on quality rather than quantity.
By being selective about the type of visitors it wants to attract, such as the well-heeled, Myanmar will stand to gain in the long run.
Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of The World, said: "They have a far higher spend per capita and that is really what you want to do as a country. You don't want to be looking at numbers of arrivals, you want to be looking at the amount of money per arrival and you want to increase that and then you get less strain on the infrastructure because you get less people but more money. It is a new experience and that is really what the luxury consumer is all about. It is about having experiences all over the world."
Myanmar is in a discovery stage right now where many tourists are keen to explore this market. However, industry players warn that if Myanmar doesn't manage the sector well, the flood of tourists could affect the natural beauty and the historical culture which this country has to offer.