Myanmar: How will economic growth impact coastal tourism development?

Myanmar: How will economic growth impact coastal tourism development?

0 5309
Andrew Leong, Principal



“What makes Myanmar’s coastal resort development situation unique is the limited coastline”

In the post ‘Comparing Demand and Supply of Asia’s Tourism Coastlines’ we concluded that Myanmar, alongside Cambodia and Timor Leste, can potentially expect very rapid coastal tourism development as a result of overall economic development. In this post we examine Myanmar’s coastal development potential in more detail. You may want to read that earlier post for some background first.

McKinsey Global Institute Research published a report titled ‘Myanmar’s Moment: Unique Opportunities, Major Challenges’. In it they projected the country’s GDP to expand approximately 4 times from current to more than USD200billlion by 2030. Likewise, international tourist arrivals are expected to grow to 13.5 million by that time.

The questions are: How does this impact Myanmar’s coastal tourism development? Which stretch of the coastline will most likely witness rapid development? How extensive will Myanmar’s tourism coastline be?

We can intuit that as Myanmar develops so will its coastal areas. But all the better if we can also identify and quantify the possible level of coastal development. To do this let’s draw comparative conclusions by looking at Myanmar’s immediate neighbors Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam who have significantly more developed tourism coastlines.


Country Coastline Comparison

Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are four countries within ASEAN having fairly close length of coastline. In fact they are right in the center among the 12 countries we previously examined.

Asia Country Coastline Comparison

Interestingly, on closer inspection (below chart) Myanmar has only about 60% of Thailand’s coastline, 56% of Vietnam’s coastline and 41% of Malaysia’s coastline (measured in kilometers).


Country GDP

Turning our attention to GDP, Myanmar’s 2011 GDP is currently the lowest of the group. McKinsey expects the country’s GDP to grow to over USD200 billion by 2030 (represented by the red bar). This puts Myanmar’s 2030 GDP below Thailand and Malaysia 2011 GDP and ahead of Vietnam.

GDP figures are in million USD.


GDP : Coastline Ratio

If McKinsey’s forward economic projections come true, where Myanmar’s GDP grows from current USD 45 billion to over USD 200 billion annually by 2030, that puts Myanmar’s GDP-to-coastline ratio on par with current day Thailand.

Myanmar’s GDP:Coastline ratio in 2030 (represented by the red bar).


PPP per capita : Coastline Ratio

The McKinsey study projects that Myanmar’s PPP per capita can rise from current of USD1,300 to USD5,100 by 2030. This puts Myanmar’s PPP-per-capita-to-coastline ratio by 2030 at 75% of the 2011 Thailand figure and well ahead of Vietnam.

Myanmar’s PPP:Coastline ratio in 2030 represented by red bar.


Population & Population : Coastline Ratio

The grey bars in the chart below represent the total country population (in thousands). The blue bars represent Population:Coastline Ratio.

Of the four countries, Myanmar not only has a relative large population but also a high population-to-coastline ratio comparable to Vietnam and Thailand (represented by the blue bars).

Population figures are in thousands. Population-to-coastline ratio as stated. Both are measured off the same axis.


International Tourist Arrivals 2011

According to McKinsey, Myanmar’s international tourist arrivals are expected to reach 13.5 million by 2030 (represented by the red bar). That’s more than Vietnam’s 2011 arrivals and about 70% of Thailand’s 2011 arrivals.


International Arrivals : Coastline Ratio

If Myanmar’s international tourist arrivals reach 13.5 million visitors by 2030 that means its international-arrivals-to-coastline ratio (red bar) will be greater than the 2011 equivalent for Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Remember that Myanmar has the shortest coastline among these four countries.




Where’s Myanmar’s developable coastline?

In the above section we looked at Myanmar’s projected macro economic and international tourist arrivals data against its coastline. In this section we look at how Myanmar’s physical coastline interacts with what we looked at above. We will also look at resort development locations, examine the extent of coastline available for development, the impact of local accessibility, population growth in Yangon and macro water supply risks.

First, let’s cover Myanmar’s existing developable coastal locations. Broadly there are four historical places. The Irrawaddy river estuary is not optimal for resort development and has been left out of the discussion.

These four places currently have very limited resort development but its where the opportunities and potential will be going forward.

The four coastal locations are:

Why these four locations? These mainland coastal locations are well known and have historically been where the domestic population visited for their beach holidays. The last location, the Myeik / Mergui islands, continues to be a popular dive destination. It’s unlikely at this initial stage of coastal development that the government will designate an entirely new area to develop while ignoring these sparsely developed historical beaches. Refer to the map above.

You have just finished reading the first part. The remainder of this post is available for registered users. Please register or login.


See also:

Myanmar’s Tourism Master Plan Final Draft Report 2013

ADB’s Myanmar Tourism Master Plan Coastal Initiatives



Refer to Comparing Demand and Supply of Asia’s Tourism Coastlines for information sources and data tables.


McKinsey’s Myanmar Executive Summary

Download (PDF, 6.93MB)

Download the full McKinsey Myanmar report here.


Share this article Email this to someonePrint this pageShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+