(8 January 2021)
I wish to send greetings and metta for the good health and well-being of all distinguished guests who are attending this meeting.
We will be announcing very shortly the Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (MERRP) incorporated in the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, which also includes measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in cooperation with other organizations in this sector, taking into consideration the recommendations of the WTO – World Tourism Organization and the World Tourism Council formulated the Strategic Roadmap for Tourism Recovery. This Strategic Roadmap, which includes short-term, mid-term and long-term strategic objectives, will have to be implemented in tandem with the MERRP during the COVID-19 period.
In our efforts to achieve recovery, the most important thing is the safety of travellers and people who are providing services to them. That is why we are planning to launch National Tourism Handbook related to protection against COVID-19, which will incorporate all the instructions issued by the relevant Ministries for the protection and control of COVID-19.
For Myanmar to obtain the Safe Tourism award, Enchanting Myanmar Health and Safety Protocols have already been adopted. In operationalizing these protocols, we would need to undergo training until we are able to follow the guidelines as a matter of habit to obtain the certification from the World Tourism Council. It would not be easy. There would be a need for periodic inspections and administrative actions. I wish to urge all concerned to cooperate with the relevant departments so that a durable system is established; something that rises quickly and withers away is not what we want.
At the moment, we have already initiated flights for tourists as well as riverine cruises in accordance with the said protocols. We are also drawing up plans to reopen our coastal areas in accordance with rules and regulations. The tourism sector has been facing difficulties on a world-wide scale. In order to achieve recovery of Myanmar tourism, I hope that we would be able to continue our efforts to promote and develop people-oriented tourism, promote and exhibit our traditional cultures, cultures of our ethnic nationals as well as the daily social lifestyle of our people.
Not only that, we need to be able to make arrangements to make the tourists interested in our rural life, the unique characteristics of each region and our agricultural works. We also need to make concerted efforts for cleanliness in our rural areas, for safety, to be in accord with health guidelines; and to offer reasonable prices. We need to make efforts for the emergence of small enterprises, local cuisine and dishes, small guest houses and hotels. We need to do all this without losing our traditional characteristics and incorporating innovative ideas.
To be able to develop a tourism destination which is attractive and safe, the Union Government, state and regional governments, ministries, private organizations, and the local people – all of them need to participate, cooperation and make concerted efforts. It would be necessary to work with new ideas, new outlooks, and new imaginative concepts to bring out the best features of each particular region. To develop tourism markets, it might be necessary for us to be able to penetrate global digital platforms in line with global trends. We will be able to penetrate the tourism market only if we are able to integrate innovations, technology and market development harmoniously.
In conclusion, what I wish to talk about is the tourism and interest of the Union. Our country is a Union. Since our country has been established with various ethnic nationals, in whatever we do, we should not forget the interest of the Union. In our efforts to develop tourism, we should not look at one region only but look at the interest of the Union as a whole and try to coordinate and be cognizant of the inter-relationships. This is very important. If we try to make interesting tour programmes for travellers by trying to link the various regions, it will go a long way to bring our ethnic nationals closer to each other and promote unity.
Let me conclude by urging all of you to join hands and cooperate in unity to revive the Myanmar tourism enterprises, which have been facing tremendous difficulties, as quickly as possible and to be able to operate free from danger and in safety.
I thank you all. May you be blessed with good health and well-being. (Translated by: Kyaw Myaing)