Published on : Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Neighbouring country of Thailand and Vietnam, Myanmar is now taking a chance to increase a tourist number especially Chinese as most of Chinese have the expenditure, which generate Myanmar’s revenue from casinos.
As of now gambling and casino operation are illegal in Myanmar and Thailand, but most of the Chinese tourists come to Myanmar for the casino and the border cities of Myanmar are set in casino operations.
Thailand features heavily in the strategies of destinations around it in attracting Chinese tourism. Thailand is by far the most popular destination in Southeast Asia for Chinese tourists, with about 9 million Chinese tourists coming to Thailand between January and November 2017.
This puts pressure on the other destinations like Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam to set themselves apart.
One solution that some officials are lobbying for in Myanmar, much like in Cambodia, is gambling.
Casinos are illegal in Thailand, so they represent a means of giving destinations, without the advantage of branding that Thailand has, an edge.
The problem for Myanmar, which already has a substantial number of casinos, is that such gambling operations are also illegal in Myanmar.
The local governments in Myanmar reportedly use these technically illegal operations to obtain tourism revenue to fund development projects.
Many of the casinos were built initially with funding by Chinese investors who took much of the profits, with the rest going to local political people of Myanmar.
The illegal casino operations in Myanmar have proven popular among locals, but casinos along the Chinese border have been able to attract a substantial number of Chinese gamblers.
This has attracted the ire of officials in the government of China’s Yunnan Province. Gamblers from Thailand are also drawn to casinos on islands near Kawthaung in the south of Myanmar.
The Chief Ministers from the administrative divisions of Mandalay, Tanintharyi, Shan, Kayin, and Mon are now putting a step on the central government to amend Myanmar’s laws to allow hotels to have casinos.
In 2016, Myanmar welcomed about 184,000 Chinese tourists, second only to Thailand with 243,000. This is a small figure compared to neighbors like Thailand and Vietnam, who received 8.7 million and 2.7 million Chinese tourists respectively in 2016.
However, this does mean that there is still enormous potential for Myanmar to make itself a more attractive option for Chinese visitors.