Tourism in Myanmar in dire straits with empty hotels

Published on : Monday, June 19, 2017

Tourism in MyanmarThe Esperado Lake View Hotel with its great view of the Shwedagon Pagoda, a glittering golden stupa is Myanmar’s top cultural attraction and an enviable spot. Yet, just two years after it was built, this four-star hotel remains half-empty for many months at a time, according to manager Nero Kyaw Wai. He said, “We aren’t seeing the demand in Myanmar.”

When the country opened itself to the outside world in 2011 after decades of military rule, it held promise as one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations, a last frontier for adventure travel. With its lush landscapes and ancient temples, government planners hoped that tourism would become a big part of the development equation, just as it has been for neighboring Thailand.

But it hasn’t worked out that way. A construction overabundance has flooded Myanmar with unused hotel rooms, and poorly regulated building has damaged national treasures like the archaeological site of Bagan and scenic Inle Lake, which is becoming clogged with silt and garbage.

In recent years, foreign investment has poured in, bringing the first Western fast food restaurants, a Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant and cell phone service. In 2016, the country clocked one of Asia’s fastest economic growth rates, according to the International Monetary Fund. Still, the country remains one of the world’s poorest, the military still holds powerful sway and ethnic violence persists.


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