By Myo Myint Than (Manset Myay)
Once the tourism sector is mentioned in Myanmar, it is usually accepted that tourism industry is concerned with foreign tourists. But when the newly-elected government took power in 2016, domestic tourists paid a visit to festival en masse across the country during holidays-short or long- reflecting in the media as a sign of public interest on domestic tourism. It also symbolizes a relative relief for the basic human needs of the general public.
I don’t want to argue that my view is good or bad and right or wrong. Allow me to explain a little to my readers. My uncle reminded me not to write anything which I know a little about. When I start to write an article , I take it seriously not to elude good facts for my readers. Let have a look at our neighbours (e.g China) where tourism sectors have gained momentum not only in foreign tourism industry but also in domestic one. Domestic tourists are visibly led by the respective companies which took them around across their country by flying their flags. This is an indicator showing China’s economic development, relative improvement in basic human needs of every household and a great interest in domestic tourism. Domestic tourism industry in India has not improved as much as in China even though there is a little difference in terms of their population and geography.
In the past in Myanmar few domestic tourists went on a pilgrimage or holidays to the whole country. After new government took power in 2016, domestic tourism has increased considerably: people casually paid a visit to famous destinations even on normal short holidays, making hotel rooms full and run short of food and drinks in restaurants. If the numbers of domestic tourists to easily-accessibly destinations 2016 are compared with those in 2017 , it will be seen an increase of 52% in Inlay, ,46% in Kyaikthiyo Pagoda. 42% in Bagan, 16% in Mandalay Region and 28% in Sagaing Region. Even though the number of tourist arrivals to Ngwesaung Beach , those to Chaungtha Beach declined slightly on account of a major upgrade of the Beach facilities.
According to reliable statistics of Domestic Pilgrimage and Tourism Service, it is learnt that there were 7 million tourists in 2016 and 8 million tourists in 2017 respectively. The numbers of tourist from the Government and private companies are not included in the list. In accordance with comprehensive surveys by World Travel and Tourism Council, the increased revenues from the foreign tourism sector were 62.7% and those from domestic sector were 37.3% in 2016. The estimate of 3.6% increase in 2017 has shown good progress in domestic tourism and it is and indisputable fact.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism should handle both foreign and domestic tourism sectors on equal footing. The MHT has given the following undertakings on the tourism sector. With Vice President (2) as Chairman and the Union Minister as secretary, the Central Committee for the Development of the National Tourism Industry started its (1/2017) meeting on domestic tourism on 26 April, 2017. Talks on domestic tourism were held to raise the standards of service to international levels by all-round supports from other related ministries, regions and states.
With active participation in discussions with responsible members from (11) sister groups, the meeting produced positive results. The Committee held its second meeting (2/2017) on 21 December, 2017 to implement the resolutions of the first meeting, with future work programs laid down for the development of the tourism sector. In addition, the Chairman of the Central Committee discussed with members from Hotelier Association on Jan 20, 2018 that the guidelines were laid down on providing enough hotel rooms for incoming tourists and development of growing domestic tourism. More feedback is needed to meet the demands of increasing number of domestic and foreign tourists.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has issued certificates to domestic tour companies since 1 October 2017 to keep them in proper order, good service and security for travellors. There are three requirements to obtain these certificates. Four rules and regulations include life insurance for travellors, putting fire extinguishers and first aid equipment in suitable places and transparency on fares concerning routes and services. These certificates have been issued to as many as 50 pilgrimage tour groups. These groups are recognized as small and medium enterprises and they will appear as an emergent power in the tourism sector. It will be successful only in cooperation with Public Private Partnership.
In accordance with guidelines outlined by the government, the members from the Hotelier Association will have to exert efforts for sustainable development of the Tourism sector. The owners of the houses, hotels or inns should avoid raising the rent of their prosperities without any reasons. The local populace will have to take an active participation in the Tourism sector.
Translated by Arakan Sein