By Kyaw Htike Soe
The number of foreign visitors to Mandalay Region totaled 241,559 in the first four months of this year, with China being the biggest source of visitors, according to the statistics from the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism (DOHT) under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
The total number of international travellers rose more than 65,000 when compared to the previous year. 173,664 tourists visited Mandalay Region during the period from January to April 2018. Mandalay Region welcomed 241,599 foreigners in the same period, up by 67,935 tourists than the previous year. Majority of tourists travelled to Mandalay Region by flights, said U San Yu, Assistant Director from the DOHT. “Arrival of Europeans to Mandalay Region declined slightly when compared to last year. But the number of Chinese visitors and travellers from some countries that Myanmar has given visa free entry saw a boost,” he said.
“Arrival of Chinese tourists is up by more than 30 percent than the previous year. About 20 international airlines expanded operations in Mandalay Region with new routes. In the past, only five Chinese airlines operated commercial flights between Myanmar and China. Now the number of Chinese airlines operating in Mandalay Region has increased to 11. In addition, other domestic airlines expanded their flight operations in Mandalay Region. So the number of foreign visitors to Mandalay Region via TadaU International Airport grew by 102 percent when compared to the same period of previous year,” he added.
The regional government is trying its utmost to attract more tourists to the area by organizing international invitational sports events and showcasing cultural heritages and traditional food. At the same time, the local government has been creating new destinations and ecotourism for globetrotters as well as conducting language proficiency courses and basic tour guide training courses for human resource development. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been making appropriate arrangements for international visitors to come to Myanmar in a safe and secure manner. The ministry also organized some travel itineraries for tourists who enter the country through border checkpoints.
Some globetrotters enter the country by car or motorbike or bicycle in either groups or crossing alone through border checkpoints to visit significant tourist attraction sites in the country. Tourists are very interested in the river cruise tours along Ayeyawady and Chindwin Rivers to enjoy the natural scenery of riverbed villages, visit elephant camps and observe living style of marine workers and traditional pottery industry. Some tourists travel to the Southeast Asian country through border checkpoints to enjoy its natural landscapes, visit attractive spots and observe a diverse range of cultures and traditions of ethnic tribes. Most tourists entered Myanmar by air, waterways as well as land with the majority entering the country by air.
385,031 globetrotters toured Mandalay Region in 2016, 483,784 foreigners travelled to the region in 2017 and 492,097 tourists visited the region in 2018. The local government set an ambitious target to receive more than 500,000 tourists this year. 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 expected to rise this year.