Myanmar: why cautious optimism?

A number of people have asked why I concluded my last blog saying that as I left Myanmar I was “cautiously optimistic.”

As I left the first reports of the ethnic disturbances in Rakhine, in the west of the country, were coming in. The government has now declared a state of emergency following clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. The politics of Myanmar are very complex and peoples’  expectations of change are high. read more

The transition to democracy will be challenging to accomplish, there are many different groups with grievances, all will compete for economic resources, all seek growth. The path to democracy will be bumpy, and that can deter visitors.

In the West there is a tendency to think only about the numbers of tourists who will now want to visit. That is significant but it is not the most likely source of growth of visitor arrivals. Myanmar has borders with India, China and Thailand – these markets will dominate Myanmar’s tourism – already there are resorts with casinos on the Chinese border.

The Ministry of Tourism has ambitious objectives, they will need the support of responsible operators, travel writers and journalists as they seek to grow their industry sustainably.

Do what you can.

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Harold Goodwin