Myanmar Travel: Adventure Planning Based on Data
There is a worldwide trend of travel and tourism that has been picking up lately. Social networks seem to be booming with this beyond belief movement of “leaving it all behind and roaming the world in freedom and wanderlust”. And while the high-profile community of travelers seems to be feasting on Italian aromas, French sophistication and Turkish delights, countries such as Myanmar are still struggling to make their way into any globetrotter’s travel journal.
So why is it that we’re not spending our holidays in Myanmar this year? Why is it that we have the Bahamas and French Polynesia on our bucket list, but we barely think of Myanmar for our next travel trip?
According to the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan 2013-2020, the country has over 2,800 km of coastline, which includes the pristine Myeik archipelago, 36 protected areas covering 5.6% of the country’s landscape and outstanding examples of religious and vernacular architecture. So again, what’s keeping us from making Myanmar our travel destination for this summer?
Well, there are several constraints and risks that prevent this destination from making it on our bucket list. The lack of accurate tourism information is one example that pops up from the list, as does the risk of natural disaster. However, the renowned friendliness of Myanmar’s people and the intercultural exchange with international visitors somehow makes it all sound a little bit better.
As much as the digital environment may have aided international tourism to grow into a self-sustaining phenomenon, governments must equally involve themselves in raising the profile and visibility of their country for any potential visitors.
Travelers may not care much about the rationale that stands at the bottom of their choosing Thailand over Myanmar, but governments sure do – this is pretty much where performance data comes into play as the people’s choice of Myanmar for their next summer vacation is ultimately an expression of how the country’s government measures and manages performance data.
So why isn’t Myanmar on our travel agenda?
The % Satisfaction with visitor experience has much to reveal about the key performance issues of the Myanmar tourism industry.
As such, while people seem to be satisfied with the variety of touristic activities, the availability of traditional cuisine and the ease of access to the country’s historical legacy, it would seem that satisfaction drops down when it comes to the value of money in terms of accommodation, the cleanliness and choice of transportation to various destinations within the country and the lackluster information regarding some of Myanmar’s most sought after locations.
Several more Key Performance Indicators can be considered complicit authors of the “Myanmar as a Travel Destination” story. The % Share of international arrivals, for example, make Yangon the most popular destination in Myanmar for travelers, Bagan, the second and Mandalay, the third.
The % Year-on-year growth of scheduled international inbound flights into Myanmar shows that there is an almost 50% increased presence of Myanmar on the international visitors’ travel route. While there are approximately 800 # Accommodation establishments in Myanmar, only 18 have a four-star rating and 5 are rated five-star.
The % Occupancy rate stands at 80%, but only for larger four and five-star hotels. As such, the high-end accommodation areas seem kind of crowded and they may become ever more so stifling with a high number of approximately 7,500,000 # Projected visitors by 2020.
However, travelers are optimistic. Wanderers are always looking for a way forward. So what does the future of the Myanmar tourism industry have to offer? The Vision Statement of Myanmar Tourism wonderfully speaks of the promise for improvement:
“We intend to use tourism to make Myanmar a better place to live in – to provide more employment and greater business opportunities for all our people, to contribute to the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage and to share with us our rich cultural diversity. We warmly welcome those who appreciate and enjoy our heritage, our way of life, and who travel with respect.”
The Strategic Programs and Key Objectives of the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan reflect Myanmar’s Tourism Vision:
- Strengthen the Institutional Environment
- Build Better Human Resource Capacity and Promote Service Quality
- Strengthen Safeguards and Procedures for Destination Planning and Management
- Develop Quality Products and Services
- Improve Connectivity and Tourism Related Infrastructure
- Build the Image, Position and Brand of Myanmar Tourism
While the strategic vision for the country’s tourism sector may portray the image of careful planning for improvement, with travelers it will always be about the adventure and not the annual reports. Tourists will always care more about the open space and not the office cubicle.
Therefore, the touristic product pallet that Myanmar has in store for development may be of more appeal to wanderers and those seeking wanderlust:
All in all, there is a story behind every number. There is a destination in every corner of the world. Sometimes, people just adventure out into the unknown without much planning ahead. Other times, data is the thing that stands behind people’s decision to go away or just stay at home.
Myanmar may be more beautiful than anything on this Earth, but is the promise of something adventurous and culturally unique enough to make us step out the door? Or is data supposed to complement the promise of something culturally unique and beautiful, to make the travel experience worthwhile?
Either way, the true measure of travelling the world may well be courage, and where there is courage, data is merely an obstacle standing in the way of it all.