U T Khun Myat, the Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw, along with dignitaries from Myanmar and Japan planted Japanese cherry trees in the compound of the Yangon Region Hluttaw yesterday.
Speaking at the third ceremonial planting of Japanese cherry trees, Speaker U T Khun Myat said he took pride in holding the ceremony in the commercial city of Yangon, and expressed his hope that the planting of cherry trees in Myanmar would strengthen friendship between the people of Myanmar and Japan, and boost diplomatic relations. The planting will also promote close relations between the two countries, the two parliaments, and the two peoples, he said. As part of the third Myanmar-Japan Sakura Festival, about 3,900 cherry trees and Maple trees provided by the Myanmar Cherry Foundation and the Japan Yuko Sakura Friendship Association will be planted in Kachin, Kayah, and Chin states and in Yangon and Mogok.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended the first Myanmar-Japan cherry tree planting ceremony, held in Nay Pyi Taw in January, 2017.
The second ceremony was held on 14 January last year at the Myanmar International Convention Centre in Nay Pyi Taw, with 200 cherry trees planted near the centre and along the Zawana Road to the Hluttaw.
From January to February, 2018, 1,250 cherry trees were planted in Chin State and 800 trees were planted in Mogok, PyinOoLwin, Kalaw, and Inle.
“While we are working to transform the country’s areas into tourist attractions, the third ceremony to plant cherry trees has arrived. The news that Myanmar is attractive because of its cherry trees will spread among travellers throughout the world,” said U T Khun Myat.
The cherry trees being planted in Myanmar have been genetically modified so that they thrive in Myanmar’s climate.
Tourists arrivals in Myanmar increased from 3.44 million in 2017 to 3.5 million in 2018, an increase of 3.15 per cent.
To attract more tourists, Myanmar has granted visa exemptions to tourists from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau since 1 October, and is granting visa on arrival to Chinese nationals who travel to Myanmar by air. The Speaker said visa on arrival is now available for Chinese travellers who arrive by air. “Moreover, visa on arrival is also being issued to Indians arriving by air, through a relaxation of visa rules. Myanmar has also opened international entry and exit points at its border with India. Visa relaxations introduced in 2018 will begin to bear fruit in 2019. So, the number of visitors to Myanmar will increase in the coming year. Yangon, the heart of Myanmar, is the country’s main entry point, welcoming a large number of visitors arriving by air from various parts of the world annually. Of the 3.55 million visitors in 2018, 1.4 million, or nearly half the foreign visitors, came to Myanmar through Yangon. Hence, the tourist promotion program in Yangon covers the whole country,” he said. He said the timing of the planting ceremony is perfect as it coincides with the Myanmar Ethnics Culture Fest, which showcases the traditions and cultures of the brethren.
“It is a pleasure for the host to show their Japanese guests the unique lifestyles, costumes, and cultures of ethnic races. Myanmar and Japan are good old friends. Joint commemorative events like this one will pave the way for enhancing cultural exchange programmes and tourism promotion programmes in the future,” he said. He then expressed his thanks to the Yangon Region Chief Minister, cabinet members, departmental personnel, private organizations, and participants from Japan and Myanmar for the success of the third Myanmar-Japan Sakura Festival, and called for inclusive involvement in the upcoming Sakura festivals to promote tourism.
Then, Mr. Ichiro Aisawa, the Chairman of the Japan-Myanmar Parliamentary Friendship Association, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung, and Chief Minister of Yangon Region U Phyo Min Thein delivered their addresses. Thereafter, the Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker and participants posed for a documentary photo.
Afterwards, Myanmar traditional snacks were served.
The Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker and the attendees then took part in the Sakura festival, or cherry planting festival, held on the lawn at Gate No. 2 of the Yangon Region Hluttaw. —MNA /(Translated by TMT, Kyaw Zin Lin)