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Myanmar tourism growth stalls in first half of 2018

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Myanmar tourism growth stalls in first half of 2018 | The Thaiger
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Myanmar has seen a slight contraction in tourist number during the first half of t2018. Tourist arrivals still reached 1,722,049 visits, a drop of 2%, according to the latest update by Hotel and Tourism Ministry.

Thai tourists remain the top source market but China is catching up. Other tourists are coming from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India, Vietnam and Malaysia. Malaysians still need to apply for a visa, the only remaining ASEAN nation that has not been awarded visa-free status for travel in Myanmar.

From November to March, Europe’s winter months, Europeans remain a major source of tourists but the continuing Rohingya crisis is said to be restricting growth in this market following October 2016.

According to the ministry’s half-year update air passenger arrivals reached 651,986 at the three international airports in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw (the capital). 682,100 visitors entered the country on visas, while another 1,039,949 were border pass travellers.

Myanmar tourism officials are expecting to reach 7 million visitors by 2020. Last year the figure reached 3,443,133 tourists, an increase of 18%.

Myanmar has 1,666 licensed hotels with 66,913 rooms up by over 510 over the past three years.

Yangon has the largest number with 399 hotels, followed by Mandalay with 215, Taunggyi/Inlay with 148 (4,483 rooms) and Bagan/Nyaung with 85 (2,919 rooms).

Out of the 14 states and regions in Myanmar, Yangon Region, Mandalay Region and Shan State attract the most international tourists.

Myanmar tourism growth stalls in first half of 2018 | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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Business

Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP | The Thaiger

The little south east Asian island nation of Singapore, which has always punched way above its weight, with the fourth largest economy, but the biggest GDP per capita in the region, is getting smaller. Both its economy and population. The population of the Republic of Singapore is shrinking for the first time since 2003. Border closures and, mostly, job losses, are forcing 10s of 1000s of foreign workers back to their home countries.

Singapore’s overall population dropped by nearly 20,000 people, or 0.3% of the population at the endow 2019, to 5.69 million people.

There’s been a sharp drop in expats, down 2% to 1.64 million, and a smaller drop in permanent residents. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a number of citizens to return from overseas, swelling the numbers of locals slightly.

The annual report of Singapore’s demographics notes that the transitions are nearly entirely due to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also says that there has already been an economic decline officially estimated between 5%-7% for 2020.

“These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions. The government has been raising barriers for foreign hiring to preserve jobs for locals.”

Singapore’s non-resident population has surged 200% over the last 2 decades, fuelling mega population growth in the city-state with one of the world’s lowest birth rates. If not for the influx of foreigners, Singapore would have been recording a net drop in population.

The rise of Singapore’s middle class, and the ‘trend’ to hire domestic help, has caused an influx of low-paid migrants to act as nannies, maids, cleaners, drivers and construction workers. Many of these have either voluntarily headed back to their countries, mostly the Philippines, or been sacked.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser notes that the decline in non-resident population is mostly due to the departure of work permit holders, who take up jobs which Singaporeans avoid in the first place. He says the trend probably signals some sectors of the economy are not doing well.

“The issue of foreigners in our midst cannot be addressed simply by cutting down their numbers, without negative consequences for our economy.”

Meanwhile, Japan says it has made an agreement with SE Nations Singapore and Brunei to reopen their borders for newly arriving expats from next Wednesday and and other long-term residents from October 8.

Those eligible to travel will be allowed in on condition they self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Brunei and Singapore join 7 other ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, with the new travel bubble with Japan. Japan still has a ban in place for the entry of travellers from 159 countries and regions. Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the government is seriously considering how to restart travel back to Japan, both for business and tourism.

“We see the resumption of new entries (of foreigners) to Japan as an extremely important issue.”

Japan already allows short-term business travellers from Singapore to enter the country without doing quarantine, on condition they take a test before they travel to Japan, then another when they arrive, can provide an itinerary of their stay and take preventative steps to actively socially distance during their visit.

SOURCE: trip.sg

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

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Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases – between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days. The DDC director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai told Bangkok Post that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Myanmar people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.”

Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

Further west, in Bangladesh, the country is registering 1,600 – 1,800 new cases per day, but falling, and India, which is still registering 75,000 – 97,000 cases per day (over the past week), is likely to surpass the US total in the next few months if the present case trends continue.

The fluid borders in the region continue to worry Thai officials who are scrambling to better secure the long border between Thailand and Myanmar, which runs from Chiang Rai in the north to Ranong in the south. Even Malaysia, to the south of Thailand, has had a recent spike of new cases, some of the outbreaks in the northern Malay state of Kedah which shares Thailand’s southernmost border.

Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, is now in a deep lockdown, including directing people to stay home, except for emergencies or to buy food, most schools around the city are now closed and residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Meanwhile the border checkpoints have become busy where Burmese are trying to cross into Thailand as fears sweep their country about the rise of the cases. The DDC chief says that “tough legal action will be implemented against those found to be involved in human smuggling gangs”.

Yesterday a Burmese teenager, living near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. The 17 year old boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The Pass, and the border zones around it, are a fluid mix of Thai and Burmese locals doing day-to-day trade. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive a week later.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for trying to cross into Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus at this stage.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Reuters | Chiang Rai Times

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