A coordination meeting for the National Tourism Guidelines for COVID-19 Safe Services was held at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
Present at the meeting were Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung, Deputy Minister U Tin Latt, MoHS Permanent Secretary Dr Thet Khine Win, and Director-General U Maung Maung Kyaw of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism with other officials.
Union Minister U Ohn Maung first addressed the meeting. He said the ministry closely followed guidelines issued by the National Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and by the Ministry of Health and Sports starting from when the disease first began to spread. He said they drafted the COVID-19 Myanmar Tourism Relief Plan based on the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) and have submitted it to the national central committee.
U Ohn Maung said the tourism industry came to a halt after entry into the county and flights were suspended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. He said there were about 400,000 entries into Myanmar in January 2020 but not even a hundred in April. He said many places were reopened step by step while following COVID-19 prevention and social-distancing guidelines from MoHS starting from factories to restaurants, to hotels and inns.
The Union Minister said the next step would be reopening pagodas and museums to restart domestic tourism. He said they wish to start a Regional Travel Bubble with Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam that are presumed to be able to contain COVID-19 to a certain degree and showing domestic tourism is ready for COVID Safe Travel.
The Union Minister said they have compiled the beta version of the Tourism National Guidelines, based on guidelines issued by MoHS, which is necessary to resume regional tourism and will add future guidelines issued by MoHS in future versions. He said there has been inquires to Myanmar for the next tourism season as it was recently listed in Forbes Magazine’s list of 7 tourism destinations after the COVID pandemic. He said business or diplomatic travellers make the bulk of current entries but when more leisure travellers begin to enter, MoHS should make obtaining health insurance a requirement.
The Union Minister said they are preparing for adventure tourism such as hiking, canoeing, rafting, bungee jumping and zip lining in Myanmar’s natural environments to attract quality travellers. He said they have formed the Sports Tourism Committee which is cooperating with MoHS to produce the Adventure Tourism SOP.
Next, Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe said the rate of community and local transmissions of COVID-19 in Myanmar has decreased although there are still transmissions. He said they are reducing restrictions slowly based on the transmission rate of the disease so that businesses may resume normally. He said the most important prevention methods right now are social distancing, washing hands and wearing face masks. He said they will discuss health insurances that are not too expensive so as to deter international tourists but can still be covered by the nation.
The meeting discussed implementing and enforcing guidelines for COVID-19, a video clip to boost tourism in Myanmar that has been sent to the BBC channel, whether the Common ASEAN Health Certificate should be materialized as voiced by the Malaysian tourism ministry during the last ASEAN Tourism Minister Meeting online, and issuing the National Tourism Guidelines for COVID-19 Safe Services and related regulations.—MNA (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)