By Myint Myat Thitsar
In countries around the world where tourism has emerged are generating foreign income from the display of natural beauty, traditional culture, ancient heritage and innovation of their respective countries. Tourism is regarded as a smokeless industry from which domestic people can make a living with job opportunities. In the global pandemic period, people in countries that are welcoming tourists with new tourist attractions under the COVID-19 restrictions are making foreign currencies.
In various parts of the world, tourism has declined since the beginning of 2020, and efforts are being made to get rid of the disease. Some countries in Europe and Asia are striving to revive the tourism sector in the COVID-19 period, with attractions for both domestic and international travellers. As soon as the global pandemic ends, tourist destinations across the globe will definitely be full of tourists, generating foreign income.
The government that wants to see the socio-economic development of rural areas as well as the national development has formed the Central Committee for National Tourism Development and adopted policies and guidelines for tourism revitalization and sustainable development of Myanmar’s tourism industry.
As well as domestic travellers of Myanmar enjoy beaches, they are especially fond of the mountainous nature and ethnic groups’ traditional cultures and cuisines. It is until the COVID-19 outbreak that a large number of international travellers flocked to Myanmar due to the breathless natural beauty and friendliness of the Myanmar people. The reduction in the incidence of COVID-19 disease through nationwide collaboration in the field of prevention, control and treatment will help boost tourism.
While the member states of ASEAN are holding a forum to revitalize regional tourism, Myanmar is also working on tourism development to revive the domestic tourism sector and is now implementing a rural-based “Tourism Village Development Project” in some regions and states. The project includes rural-based mountain tourism that will appeal to both local and foreign tourists. The project aims to develop a rural tourism sector that will attract tourists to the respective regions and states, including Shan State plateau.
Shan State is rich in tourism sources and was a major tourist destination for both domestic and foreign tourists every year in Myanmar before COVID-19. Therefore, the “Shan State Tourism Village Development Project” was launched to address the decline in tourism in the state due to COVID-19. Initially, 10 ethnic villages are being developed to bring together the natural beauty of the mountains. These are Naung Bo Lotus Pond in Lu Yoe Taung village, Taunggyi; Ancient Monastery in Kyaukkachar village in Hopong; Shan rice cultivation and traditional Shan food house along the waterway from Kakku Pagoda in Pan Lon village in Hsihseng; Yay Pyar Eain (blue water pond) and waterfall in Taw Kyel village in Pindaya; cloud sea in Kyauk Taw village in Nawnghkio; Akha Ethnic Village in Hokyin village in Kengtung; Akha Ethnic Village in Hweyone village in Tachilek; Yinn Ethnic Village in Kone Lan village in Namsang; Ancient Monastery in Loilem village in Mongnai and Palaung Ethnic Village in Sai Moon Village in Kunhing. Each village is being developed at a cost of K80 million from the fund of the Shan State government’s 2020-2021 financial year.
Respective Township General Administration Departments will be involved in constructing of infrastructure development, and the Shan State Hotels and Tourism Directorate will conduct tourism marketing and provide tourism training. Village-based tourism infrastructure, such as access to village water, rural road repair, construction of toilets, jefties and parking lots, souvenir shops, information centre, setting up traditional handicrafts and local food showrooms, viewpoints, landfills, will be included in the infrastructure development works.
The tourism training also includes COVID-19 disease prevention and safety pieces of training for the villagers, as well as tourism source development training for the villagers, such as basic tourism training, first aid training, village youth photography training, environmental conservation training, traditional food production training, systematic waste disposal training, series of training for 3D photos and video shooting required in marketing tourism, publishing maps and pamphlets.
These rural-based tourism villages will surely support the speedy growth of the country’s tourism industry in the post-COVID-19 period, providing income and job opportunities as well as the socio-economic development of the State and local people. The benefits of increasing the desire to preserve the traditions and culture, and spreading tourism from urban to rural areas and the development of rural tourism through the use of tourism resources, will also be gained.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries across the world are developing tourism, and Italy which is famous for its cultural and historical heritage is also included. In a town located in the southern part of Italy, a special tour programme is being implemented which allows tourists to stay in the houses of the local people for free. They explain to the tourists the background history, traditions and culture, and literature of the town. This tour programme also includes the moment to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the sea in the town. International tourists were invited online and more than 8,000 travellers across the world including Asia applied for it. Italy implemented the special tour programme with a total of 250 international tourists for the first time. Since it gained success, the country is now developing new tourist attractions along with the COVID-19 restrictions.
The warm welcome of the locals, free accommodation in designated housing, once-a-week local dinners with unique cuisine are seen as an innovative tourism success for both foreign and host countries.
As a unique country with coastal, plain, and mountainous regions, in addition to the abundance of natural resources, cultural and historical heritages, Myanmar has many opportunities to revive tourism in the same way as the rest of the world. I, hereby, encourage everyone in the regions and states where the “Tourism Village Development Project” is being implemented to participate in the tourism development activities during the COVID-19 period so that local people can have opportunities to make a living as well as can generate foreign income from the tourism industry in the post-COVID-19 period.
(Translated by GNLM)