By News Team
Tourism, the smokeless industry, contributes directly towards national economic development by earning foreign exchange, creating job opportunities and flowing cash directly or indirectly to all walks of life. Attraction, accessibility, accommodation and administration are the distinctive characteristics of healthy tourism. For development of Myanmar tourism industry, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is closely cooperating with related ministries, international tour agencies, development partners and private tour operators.
The number of tourists visiting Myanmar has increased year after year, and according to data jointly collected with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, 2.9 million tourists chose Myanmar as their destination in 2016 and in 2017 the number hit 3.44 million.
Policy of the Ministry
When the incumbent government took office on 1 April 2016, the ministry laid the following six policies and turned them into practice:
(1) To be the most important contributor to the national economy
(2) To preserve and conserve natural environment, traditional heritage and custom of the local people in order to sustain the development of tourism industry in Myanmar.
(3) To develop socio-economy of the people and private sector by means of tourism development.
(4) To implement the regional and international contracts for the good of the national interest.
(5) To contribute to the peace process by developing tourism sector.
(6) To develop sustainable and inclusive tourism.
Mission of the Ministry
To turn the policies into practice, the ministry is numerous missions which include, to name a few, seeking assistance necessary for prioritized list included in Myanmar tourism plan from development partners, Myanmar to become prominent tourist destination by conducting promotion with the help of organizations at home and abroad, seeking ways and means to increase number or tourists, raise national income and create job opportunities, among others.
The ministry designated the following 15 areas as Community-based Tourism areas in the interests of local people to be able to enjoy the benefits in a short period of time:
(1) Indawgyi Lake and villages in its environ in Kachin State
(2) Panpet and Tanilalae villages in Loikaw in Kayah State
(3) Thandaunggyi area in Kayin State
(4) Lwekhaw, Inn Ne, Hteenae and Katku villages in Pa-O Self Administered Zone in Shan State
(5) Villages in Myaing Township in Magway Region
(6) Magyigan Village in Sale Township in Magway
(7) Six villages between Mingun and Kyaukmyaung villages for Ayeyarwady dolphins conservation
(8) Kyaikthale village in Twantay Township in Yangon Region
(9) Hsawlaung village in Kanpetlat Township in ChinState
(10) Villages in Shwebo District in Sagaing Region
(11) Hsithe and Myitkangyi villages in Singu Township in Mandalay Region
(12) Tashawn village in Hpalam Township in Chin State
(13) Lwenwe Pagoda Mountain Yeseik Village in Nyaungshwe Township
(14) Saga Village in Nyaungshwe Township
(15) Sikyain and Pinzein villages in Pindaya Township in Danu Self Administered Zone in Shan State
The ministry submitted Hotel and Tourism Law (draft) to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. After getting approval region and state governments will have authorities to grant license currently managed by the ministry thereby enabling hoteliers and tour operators to apply work license in own regions.
With the aim of producing skilled new generation staff, the ministry has been conducting courses at Mandalar College and National Management College. These education facilities cultivated and produced 26 B.A. (Tourism) holders in 2017-2018 Fiscal Year and 15 in 2018-2019 FY who were assigned as Upper Division Clerk at the ministry.
Pamphlets depicting scene of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle, tome a few, and community- based tourism pamphlets were published and distributed and DVDs and memory sticks with a picture of Myanmar’s traditional bowl used to offer alms to monks are produced to promote tourism industry through domestic and international tourism shows, foreign Myanmar Embassies, and consulate general offices.
Information counters are also opened in airports and main tourist destinations for the convenience of tourists. The ministry also has a website for tourist information and it also posts information on such social media as Instragram, Facebook, and YouTube.
The ministry also participates in tourism expo in Singapore, Germany, Thailand, and Britain. To promote tourism industry in the country hospitality conferences were jointly held by Myanmar Tourism Federation and Singapore-based Sphere Exhibits Private Ltd. As television channels are important for promoting tourism industry the ministry is cooperating with international TV channels and other media to air Myanmar’s business.
Regional and International Cooperation
Myanmar is cooperating with Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry to promote tourism between the two countries by signing MoU on cooperation in tourism industry during the visit of Thai minister to Myanamr in January 2017. Moreover, Myanmar and Cambodian ministers signed an action plan on cooperation in Angkor-Bagan: Two Ancient Cities — One Destination in 2017. Myanmar is also actively participating in ASEAN’s tourism plan and plan of ASEAN and China, Japan and Korea.
It is worth mentioning that Myanmar’s Myeik Journey,
Pa-O Journey and Loikaw
Journey won ASEAN Homestay and Community Based Tourism Award at ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017. One of the efforts the ministry made was 3rd Myanmar International Travel Mart 2017 which showcased photos of Indian Buddhist Pilgrimage in Yangon and Mandalay.
During the second year in office of the government, the ministry conducted 51 courses on hotel and tourism and 4,229 trainees received the course completion certificates. These courses produced tourist guides, housekeepers, bellboys, room service staff and others. English and Spanish languages courses, hospitality courses, management courses were also conducted by the ministry in cooperation with partners.
Granting Hotel and Tourism Licenses
As tourism industry is booming in the country, the ministry granted permissions to 127 hotels and inns with 6,511 rooms in advance for building during the second year in office of the government. Moreover, other licenses were granted to tour guides and operators. License fees are also reduced by 50 % for entrepreneurs enabling them to save cost.
Investment in Hotels and Tourism Industry
Up to March of 2017, the nation saw foreign investment on 59 hotels with 11,620 rooms at an investment cost of USD 3805.025 million. The figures jumped to 64 hotels with the 12,194 rooms at a cost of USD 4,370.97 million.
Cruise ships, chartered flights, cross border caravans, river tour and yacht tour are conducted by the ministry and about 50,000 tourists enjoyed the trip including balloon riding and marathon race in the second year in office of the government.
The ministry’s official website is www.tourism.gov.mm on which it posts information for tourist who want to visit Myanmar. At the site one can browse news in Myanmar, English, Korean, Japanese, German, Chinese, Thai, and French languages.
As tourism industry, creating job opportunities and earning money for the nation, needs not to apply natural resources. It is a service with multiplier effect from airlines to the vendors. The money spent by tourists is in the nature of fragmentation flowing into all walks of life.
It is needed to ease the rules of applying arrival visa for tourists’ convenience.
As regards transportation sector, airfields or airports are to be upgraded. The tasks call for cooperation of other related ministries.
The policy of collective strength laid down by the government is relevant to booming of tourism industry. All the related ministries are to translate the policy into action for tourism industry development. In that regard the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will cooperate with other ministries and private businesses and entrepreneurs more for emerging sustainable tourism industry in Myanmar.
(Translated by Wallace)