Kawthaung islands attracts more foreign visitors

Writer: 
Myat Su Naing
Islands in Kawthaung such as Kyat Mauk Island, 115 miles island and Nyaung Oo Phee island famous for diving and adventure trips attract more and more foreign visitors each year.
Last year, over 300,000 international tourists visited Myeik archipelago and brought in Ks.63.3 million according to assistant director of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (Kawthaung).
According to industry source, international tourists used to neglect Myeik Archipelago but had increasingly gained attention four to five years ago. Due to rising demand, there are new plans underway to accommodate for more trips and tourists. Most foreign visitors hail from Europe and the rest from neighboring Asian countries such as Thailand. 
Travel agents pitch foreigners with adventurous activities such as deep sea diving. Many foreigners also visit Myeik islands with their own boats connecting with Myanmar national and foreign owned boat services.
There are 14 foreign owned and 3 Myanmar national owned boat companies in Myeik region.
Charges are US$ 50 per capita within Kawthaung district connecting Myanmar national owned boat service, US$80 within Myeik District. For those connecting via foreign owned boat services, it cost US$ 100 per capita within Kawthaung district and US$ 150 within Myeik District. If more than 4 nights and 5 days, extra charges of US$ 20 per head will be collected per day.
The archipelago was completely off limits to foreign travelers until 1997. It consists of more than 800 virgin islands and is part of the Taninthayi Region. All islands are located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of southern Myanmar.
Motorboat tourists from Asia and European nations enjoy visiting Myeik Archipelago for its beautiful landscapes along the coast such as coral reefs, mangroves and a diverse species of birds and aquatic animals and traditional culture, such as the sea-based life of the Salon, also known as the sea gypsies, a seafaring ethnic minority.