Written by Carma Hassan, CNN
“It’s a good thing,” said Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, when asked on Wednesday about the possibility of opening up the country to foreign tourism once again.
“I can’t say it yet, because we have to discuss the details, but it’s a good thing,” she said while testifying before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Her cautious optimism comes after the government announced last week that it is preparing to establish a tourism commission to facilitate the ministry’s opening the international market.
Around 88 million people visited the country in 2017, according to the World Tourism Organization , but previous fears that repatriating the country’s rich ethnic minority heritage, combined with long-term censorship of news media, has deterred many travelers.
Myanmar tourists crossing the Nang Us Nyint Bridge at the Bushing Taw Pal State Railway Station in Chin State. Credit: Anna Nazario/UN Photo/M. Saeed/VAS
Then in March, the government officially took in 829,000 Rohingya refugees over a six-month period. Just weeks before, US President Donald Trump stripped the country of its US trade privileges , citing “flagrant disregard for human rights.”
If the government were to reconsider the repressive economic sanctions that were placed on the country, would travelers be willing to travel there again?
In September 2017, when Myanmar announced a ban on U.S. tourists, 27% of respondents to an online CNN Poll said they would consider traveling in the country again, while 21% were unwilling.
“We want to help tourists come to Myanmar and show tourists that they can have a good experience,” said Suu Kyi in her comments.