Myanmar’s hotels and tourism sector has gone through somewhat of a turbulent time in recent years. With demand reaching astronomical heights in 2014/15 the sector looked set to grow exponentially in the years following. The expected growth has meant that developers rushed to build hotels across the country. The total number of hotel, motel and guesthouse rooms increased by around 129% between 2013 and 2019 from 34,834 to 79,855 keys. According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT) this enormous amount of supply growth has largely been concentrated in just a few key locations. In 2019 Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw accounted for 51% of these rooms and a sizable 30% of total rooms were located in Yangon alone. However, this huge increase in supply was not met with the expected demand as Myanmar suffered a public relations crisis on the international stage and total arrival numbers fell by 38% between 2015 and 2016. The combination of these two factors has meant that in recent years Myanmar’s tourism sector has had to deal with the issue of massive oversupply of hotels.
Slowly but surely since 2016, the total number of arrivals has been increasing to a point in 2019 where total arrivals were just 7% less than the highest point in 2015. However, it should be noted that the demographic of these visitors has shifted significantly. Between 2018 and 2019 the number of Chinese visitors increased by 152%, which saw their share of total visitors increase from 8% to 17% in just one year. As Chinese visitors tend to have a very different spending pattern to that of Western tourists, who visited Myanmar in reduced numbers following 2016, the average daily expenditure of tourists had fallen from US$ 171 in 2015 to US$ 108 in 2019. This is likely due to the popularity of Chinese package holidays that have been dubbed ‘zero-dollar tourism’ and have widely been viewed to have little economic benefit for Myanmar.