Gerben Bloemendaal, managing director of Asia DMC Myanmar, has visited some 40 agents in the last few days, spanning Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga, Rotorua, Auckland and other centres. He says safety and the political situation are always top of mind and the subjects of the ‘first questions’ when he meets agents. ‘It is safe to travel in Burma. The area affected (with the Rohingya crisis) is close to the Bangladesh border and it has actually been closed to tourists for 20 years.' He says travellers concerned that they are spending money with the military in Burma can be assured that many of the hotels in the country are not government owned. Rather they are in the hands of international chains or, at the other end of the scale, private local owners.
Bloemendaal says the company recently hosted 10 New Zealand agents on a famil in the country. They visited the ‘big four’ of Mandalay, Yangon (Rangoon), Inlé Lake and Bagan. ‘The feedback has all been excellent.’ He says new opportunities are opening for the trade when it comes to getting off the beaten track in the destination – including to beach areas in the south and temple sights less known than Bagan.