Foreign arrivals in Yangon up 44% in January-April

Foreign visitors who arrived in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, during the first four months of this year rose nearly 44 percent from the same period of 2012 -- a sign that the formerly military-ruled Southeast Asian country is rapidly opening to the world, local media reported Monday.

A total 253,136 foreign visitors arrived at Yangon International Airport, the country's gateway, between Jan. 1 and April 30, up from 175,930 from the year-earlier level, the Myanmar Times reported.

Of them, 64 percent were tourists, the paper said, quoting official figures.

Asians accounted for more than 60 percent of the arrivals, with Thais leading the list at 37,333, followed by Japanese at 21,779, South Koreans at 18,813 and Chinese at 16,041, the report said.

Among Europeans, the arrivals included 15,251 French, 13,119 Britons and 11,289 Germans.

The increase in visitors to Myanmar has largely been attributed to the country's ongoing political and economic reforms, the paper said.