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Myanmar reforms prompt tourist boom

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Myanmar reforms prompt tourist boom

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After decades of military dictatorship and international sanctions, Myanmar is experiencing a tourism explosion.

Last year more than 400,000 people visited the country and this year the number is expected to double.

Government reforms have convinced the west to relax economic sanctions, prompting an influx of tourists and foreign investment.

“You also have tourists who previously thought it was not good to come to Myanmar because of sanctions and they think: ‘ok, now I think it’s ok to go there’,” said Edwin Briels, General Manager of Khiri Travel.

“A lot of people are just curious. Because from the total number of foreigners arriving now, a lot of them are not tourists but business people, people who are looking for opportunities,” added Briels.

Despite its scenery, Buddhas and ancient temples, living conditions for most people remain desperate and there are still many concerns over human rights.

But there is a new wave of optimism. Burma’s opposition reportedly wants to encourage tourism that benefits ordinary people, rather than package tours whose proceeds fill government coffers.