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The road to Mandalay now leads to Bagan

Quality travelers, improved access and low season growth are highlights in C9 Hotelworks latest emerging market update.

Myanmar’s Bagan with its ancient temples and pagodas remains one of Asia’s most treasured and authentic destinations. A new report by C9 Hotelworks titled Bagan Myanmar Tourism Market Review highlights how rising gateway access from Mandalay has spurred growth both by air and road.

Looking at the geographic source of tourists, it’s clear the quality aspect of high-end travelers is creating demand, as the US, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan are prominent as the Top 5 visitor markets.

In 2016, there were 282,387 overseas visitors to Bagan, with a 5-year compounded average growth rate standing as 12%. One clear trend demonstrated in C9’s research is the emergence of low-season travelers from within Asia and a rising domestic segments is creating higher levels of year round demand.

For now, Bagan has little representation by overseas hotel groups.  Smaller local groups dominate the landscape. There are currently 88 international standard tourism establishments operating with just under 3,000 keys.

C9’s Managing Director Bill Barnett commenting on the accommodation market says “in the next 24 months will see 804 new rooms coming into supply but this is mainly from domestic investors. Clearly there is ample space for overseas investors in the hospitality space, given high room rates and stronger seasonal trading.”

While Bagan has established a sustained trajectory of growth over a sustained period, clearly the destination continues to be an object of desire for a new era of travelers. One important storyline is the government pushing new hotel development to the outer areas of the Archeological Zone.

Looking at the path forward, the question is whether Bagan will succumb to the temptation to go into the mass market as has Siem Reap, Hoi An and Luang Prabang or is the true measure of success to remain small and targeted in it’s approach. Only the future can tell.

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