- By Shin Min
A roundtable business discussion was held at MRTV in Nay Pyi Taw recently, during which matters relating to tourism were explored. Following are discussions by U Ohn Maung, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism, U Khin Zaw, Advisor at Myanmar Tourism Federation, Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General for Directorate of Hotels and Tourism, Daw May Myat Mon Win, Chairperson of Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board, U Thet Lwin Toe, Chairperson of Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, and U Aung Myo Min Din, Chairperson of Myanmar Hotelier Association.
Q: Here in this business discussion this week, we shall start our discussion titled, “Country’s economy can be enhanced by promoting tourism”. First and foremost, I would like to request our Union Minister to give a brief account of the performance of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
U Ohn Maung, Union Minister: As for our Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, efforts are being made to boost the tourism industry by laying down six national tourism policies, with the approval of the Central Committee for the Development of the National Tourism Industry, led by Vice President U Henry Van Thio. We, especially, aim at achieving poverty reduction, creating employment opportunities, improving human resource development and developing tourism destinations. Although our ministry is not a major source of income for the country, we are trying our best to earn foreign currency from the tourism industry. Implementation processes are being made to preserve and conserve natural environment, traditional heritages and customs of the local people in order to sustain the development of tourism industry while adopting the six national tourism policies in the community.
The ministry has designated Community-based Tourism (CBT) and Eco Tourism in the interests of local community in order to enjoy the benefits in a short period of time. As for the ministry, plans are under way to promote CBT in many areas, including Kyaikthale village in Twantay Township, Yangon Region.
Q: Could you explain about the implementation process of Community-based Tourism in Myanmar?
U Khin Zaw, Advisor: If globetrotters from western countries go to a particular region, they usually have a sense of what to contribute to the local community, and return home bringing back experience from the local community. Thus, if we can offer tourists an authentic cultural exposure, I am sure that the CBT and Eco Tourism will flourish.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been making necessary arrangements for ASEAN+3 countries, such as Japan, South Korea and China, to gain easy access to study ways of life of the local community.
Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General: Tourism is also called a “Smokeless Industry”, because it can make direct contribution to the economic development of the country, earning foreign currency besides creating employment opportunities. What I want to say is that the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is closely cooperating with eleven other associations. Currently, the ministry is supervising and monitoring the implementation process, as it had already drawn up the tourism master plan 2013 as well as policy documents regarding sustainable and community-based tourism, with the private partnership for human resource development.
Q: How do you manage the promotion of tourism marketing?
Daw May Myat Mon Win, Chairperson: Our association founded the Myanmar Marketing Company in 1996 and managed to put up proposals. At that time, tourism industry was quite hard to operate and resources were also very limited. Now, we even have the Myanmar Tourism Association. Within two or three years’ time, the ministry started to provide assistance to private sector enterprises. With cooperation between the ministry and private partnerships, we are aiming to become one of the best destinations for tourists.
Tourism & Travel shows
To implement this, we went to tourism & travel shows four or five times a year, and this year we have already planned to go to some 19 shows held in South Korea, Japan, Europe, Australia, etc. We are going to implement tourism destination objectives by using modern techniques, including the Internet, mobile phones and digital platform.
U Thet Lwin Toe, Chairperson: The Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) was formed under the supervision of the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism in the year 2002 and is the principal association formed with the expressed purpose of organizing the private sector travel agencies, tour operators and travel-related businesses in the promotion of Myanmar as a premier travel destination. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is now working on a policy that encourages an all-inclusive tourism. Tourism can bring in a significant contribution to raising foreign exchange earnings. That’s why we are discussing on how to relax some rules and regulations.
U Aung Myo Min Din, Chairperson: Well, the Myanmar Hotelier Association (MHA) was set up in 2003 under the close supervision of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. MHA has, over the years, become a strong organization and has established 19 hotelier associations in major tourist destinations, running under six main committees.
Q: What would be the major efforts for the development of Myanmar tourism?
U Ohn Maung, Union Minister: The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has laid down policies to promote tourism development. We have drawn up a new tourism law, with the cooperation of relevant ministries, UMTA, businesspersons and experts. The ministry has submitted the new Hotels and Tourism Law (draft) to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. After approval, regional and state governments will have the authority to grant license, currently managed by the ministry, thereby enabling hoteliers and tour operators to apply for work license in their own regions.
Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General: The Myanmar Hotels and Tourism Law was prescribed in 1993 and we are still using it. As the Union Minister just mentioned, the new law will include three committees. The new Central Development Committee for the Tourism Industry has been formed in line with Union government’s Order No 19/2017 for the development of tourism, including main projects and strategies. It will deal with respective ministries and departments in states and regions for the development of the tourism sector. The committee is tasked with boosting tourism development in rural areas, and in turn improving the socio-economic development of the people.
Q: Can the Union Minister discuss your plans for the tourism industry for the remaining tenure of the government?
U Ohn Maung, Union Minister: I am a hotelier who is familiar with the hotel industry, and I foresee the tourism market as very promising in the future. Myanmar is well endowed with natural beauties, including snow-capped mountains, that can help expand the tourism business of the country.
Win Ko Ko Aung