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Burma gears up for a decade of tourism

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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter decades of political suppression under Burma’s military regime, a new era dawns over the country’s tourism sector. Last year saw reports of fully booked hotels in Rangoon and an inflow, though relatively small, of investments in Burma’s dazed tourism business, which is in bad need of improvements in infrastructure all over the country.


2013 may be the year of Burma package tours. On Thursday, Swedish tour operator Fritidsresor (Leisure Travels) announced it is launching package tours to Burma (Myanmar), claiming that it is the first travel operator in Sweden to do so.

“It feels like a historic moment to be able to offer package tours to Burma”, Fritidsresor’s communications chief Lottie Knutson said in a press release. “A consequence of decades of closedness and suppression is, paradoxically, genuinely preserved culture, practices, and unexploited beaches like Bangan and Lake”, Lottie Knutson said.


Amata Resort & Spa in Burma. Photo: Fritidsresor

Amata Resort & Spa in Burma. Photo: Fritidsresor


The Swedish travel company is obviously not the only one aiming at this pristine market, which started to open up two years ago when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her house arrest and returned to her seat in parliament. A search for “burma package tour” on Google generates hundreds of outfits in the travel business showing off as the best chiose for those who seek to explore this southeast nation, long left to the odd backpacker to enjoy.

The media has cached on to the Burmese awakening, too. British the Telegraph features a “beginner’s guide” on its website, and the Associated Press in January ran a story picturing Myanmar as a “country lost in time” due to many years of stagnation and underdevelopment. And reports from Burma are likely to increase, as the Burmese government has begun issuing press visas to journalists, the Guardian reported.


Burma:Ngapali:Amata Resort & Spa. Photo: Fritidsresor

Burma, Ngapali: Amata Resort & Spa. Photo: Fritidsresor

One can wonder, though, how Burma, ill-fit and unprepared to handle this large inflow of visitors, will adapt to its new role as prime-destination for sun-seekers and holidaymakers. “Many inbound tour operators are concerned that the country’s existing infrastructure will not be able to handle the increasing demand from tourists,” pointed out in an analysis. Reports of booming hotel rates surfaced already last year, and it is likely that many visitors will find that the days of peace, undisturbed beaches and quietness are already gone for Burma.

A Burmese temple. Photo: Fritidsresor

A Burmese temple. Photo: Fritidsresor

The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.