Myanmar’s tourism to South Korea grows steadily

SEOUL AND RANGON – From dramas to K-pop, “Korean Wave” pop culture is gaining a growing following in Myanmar, and the number of Myanmar tourists to South Korea continues to grow.

According to data from the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), since 2015, the number of tourists to South Korea and Myanmar has increased year by year. From January to November last year, a total of 71,094 Myanmar tourists traveled to South Korea, a year-on-year increase of 21%. 2015.

Given the rising number of tourists, Myanmar is likely to be the next major target for South Korea’s tourism industry, which has focused on attracting more tourists from Asian countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, said Korea Tourism Organization chief Oh Chung-seop. Indonesia and Malaysia have a lot of promotion and advertising targeting them.

“Myanmar will be our next target,” he said.

While the Hallyu, or “Korean wave” pop culture phenomenon has led to the spread of Korean culture, fashion, cafes and popular interest, the peaceful trend on the Korean peninsula also helps attract foreign tourists, he added.

Ko Naung Naung Han, secretary-general of the Union of Myanmar Tourism Associations and managing director of inbound and outbound travel company Radiant Tours, said the popularity of Korean dramas and movies has made Myanmar a dream destination for Burmese travelers.

With direct flights between the two countries now available and visas easier to obtain than before, more travel agencies are arranging trips to South Korea, he said.

“Previously, visa applications were often rejected due to concerns about people overstaying or working on tourist visas. Recently, embassies have approved more visas for travelers and travel agents because they now have direct flights.”

Myanmar’s outbound tourism is booming, and there are currently more than 500 travel agencies providing Myanmar tour guide services. According to recent reports in state media, Burmese mainly travel to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Bodh Gaya, India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Jordan, South Korea, the United States and Europe.

“Myanmar has a lot of interest in South Korea and South Korea has a lot of interest in Myanmar,” KTO Director Oh said.

From January to August 2018, 42,535 South Korean tourists visited Myanmar, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

Wu urged tourism authorities to follow the example of Myanmar’s neighbors and step up marketing efforts to attract more tourists to the country.

“Nowadays, especially the Korean market, Japan, China, Indonesia and especially Taiwan are very eager to attract Korean tourists,” he said. Some countries promote themselves by producing movies starring South Korean celebrities or sponsoring TV shows to be shot in South Korea, he added.

He suggested that Myanmar needs to do more to improve its image.

“Tourism is not one-sided. It’s a two-way communication. That’s why in a way, to Myanmar, to South Korea, we should add more tourists. This way we have the opportunity to understand each other’s culture.”

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