Myanmar Eyes 75 MN Tourists By 2020; Strand Cruise Myanmar Sets Sail, New Flights Launched
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Myanmar is aiming to attract 7.5 million visitors in 2020, according to its Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The fast-emerging destination meanwhile is expecting tourist arrival numbers for the 2015 year to total around 4.5 million, a year which saw more domestic and regional flights launched, new hotels open and the introduction of a new luxury Ayeyarwady river cruise product.

Myanmar continues to experience a surge in international tourism, having in 2012 welcomed 1 million visitors for the first time. This was followed by 2 million arrivals in 2013 and 3 million in 2014.

A master plan being set out by the ministry aims to help attract tourists with six factors: transforming policies and organizations, amending the Tourism Law, preserving natural resources and culture, expanding infrastructure, preserving tourist attractions and developing human resources.

New Luxury Myanmar River Cruise

On the travel and tourism product front, January 2016 saw the much-anticipated launch of the newest luxury Myanmar river cruises, in the form of the Strand Cruise. This magnificent custom-built ship is now sailing a regular schedule of three and four night cruises on the Ayeyarwady River between the fascinating destinations of Bagan and Mandalay.

The Strand Cruise was created to mirror the legendary style, heritage and world-renowned reputation of sister property The Strand Hotel in Yangon, in what is a contemporary river cruise experience offering exceptional standards of comfort and discreet personalised service.

The Strand Cruise ship itself measures 61 metres in length and boasts an impressive list of onboard facilities that includes a swimming pool, spa and wellness area, The Strand Restaurant serving fine international and Asian cuisine, al fresco dining area, wine cellar, lounge and library corner and the gorgeous Upper Deck in which to socialize, sip on a cocktail and admire the exotic Myanmar countryside passing by.

A prominent feature of these new Myanmar luxury cruises is the stunning cabin accommodation that passengers enjoy. There are 27 lavish cabins, in the categories of Deluxe Cabins (10), Strand Cabins (13), State Suites (two) and Strand Suites (two). With an elegant décor of Burmese craftsmanship, teakwood floors and items of regional art, each cabin boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony while appointments include complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with cable channels, international plugs, AV connectivity, safety box, full-length mirror, bathrobes and slippers, branded amenities and separate toilet and rain shower. 24-hour butler service adds to the luxury cruise experience.

The Strand Cruise sails four night cruises from Bagan to Mandalay and three night cruises from Mandalay to Bagan. The fares start from US$1,782 double occupancy / US$2,673 single occupancy for Mandalay to Bagan and from US$1,976 double / US$2,964 single for Bagan to Mandalay. A 20 per cent discount on the public rates can be enjoyed for January to March 2016 sailings.

The fares for these delightful Ayeyarwady river cruise journeys include three meals during full sailing days and breakfast on day of disembarkation, sightseeing, local soft drinks and local beer and house wine during meals, shuttle transportation between ship and airport, port charges, English speaking guide (other language guides on request subject to availability) and complimentary international daily newspapers via digital tablet.

Along with the luxurious onboard living, the Strand Cruise’s journeys include visits to temples, pagodas, palaces, monasteries and remote villages. The ship moors at enchanting spots such as by Old Bagan and at the foot of an ancient Buddhist monastery on Sagaing Hill in Mandalay. Excursions take in iconic landmarks like U-Bein Bridge in Mandalay and a number of the main temples in Bagan including Tant Kyi Taung temple and the royal cities of Mingun and Ava are also visited.

New Myanmar Flights

Hong Kong-based budget airline Hong Kong Express plans to launch new flights to Myanmar in February 2016. These are a four times weekly Hong Kong-Yangon service starting 17 February and a twice weekly Hong Kong-Mandalay service starting 21 February.

It follows the introduction in October and November 2015 of four times weekly Ho Chi Minh City-Yangon and daily Hanoi-Yangon flights by Vietnamese carrier VietJet, and in August 2015 the launch of national flag carrier Myanmar National Airlines’ first international route - a daily (except Saturday) service between Yangon and Singapore.

Online Business Visa

In 2015, Myanmar’s online tourist visa system was extended to now also allow for business visa applications. A business visa is US$70 and a tourist visa US$50, and the visa can be used to enter Myanmar at Yangon International Airport, Nay Pyi Taw International Airport and Mandalay International Airport.


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