President Thein Sein of Myanmar announced in the second quarter of 2013 that his country was implementing reforms with the hopes of improving the economy. The changes are being implemented and Myanmar’s political and economic reforms have made this formerly state-controlled territory more attractive not only to investors but to tourists as well. Myanmar is relaxing its hold on those visas to foreigners and it is intent on gaining more tourists into the country for a taste of Burmese hospitality.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma is a mystical, exotic and magical place. The country served as an outpost for the British Empire before its independence in 1948 through the efforts of its revolutionary heroes. The Union of Myanmar, about the size of the state of Texas, used to be controlled by a military junta. Its people were unable to enjoy the freedoms and conveniences that are readily available to modern societies. They have suffered through many years of conflict and oppression.
Now, the new government is slowly endeavoring to change the world’s view of Myanmar. What used to be a recluse country is opening its many palaces and gardens, parks, and magnificent Buddhist temples to the world. Its rural areas are dominated by rice paddies, serene and fertile valleys, rivers and lakes, one of which is the amazing Irrawaddy.
Myanmar’s coming out in the art scene
Myanmar is not lacking in treasures, what with a newly-identified thousand-year old bronze cast done by ancient Buddhist artists. This particular piece was discovered fully intact inside a box that came up to the surface after an earthquake. This is one of the treasures of Myanmar that will be exhibited in New York City in 2015. This great example of early Buddhist art will definitely showcase a side of the country that is less familiar to outsiders. Majority of the items to be exhibited will come from Myanmar, including formerly off-limits items loaned for the art show by President Thein Sein himself.
At this time, curators are still rummaging through museum basements for more treasures. The organizers of this Buddhist art extravaganza intend for the pieces to speak for the country, and show the capabilities of its artisans as well as the significance of Buddhism in daily life in Myanmar. Their search has taken them to Yangon, Prome, Bagan, and Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s current capital city. Bagan is a particularly rich region and it is not uncommon for farmers to find gold jewelry when they till the earth. This place was the very heart of a royal kingdom that thrived from the 9th -13th centuries.
Welcome to Myanmar!
This June, Myanmar was the host of the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit. It was a first for Myanmar and 55 countries came along with their leaders along with CEOs from multinational companies. They all found out how ready Myanmar is to accept investors and new allies.
In 2012, it was reported by a private research company that a million foreigners went to visit Myanmar. The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies estimated Myanmar’s income from tourism in 2012 at around 500 million dollars. The number of tourists is only expected to rise and come 2015, three million visitors are expected to enter Myanmar’s formerly locked borders.