Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Chairman of the Central Committee for the Development of National Tourism Industry, delivered an address at the World Tourism Day – 2018 ceremony held at Thingaha Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw hotel zone, yesterday morning.
The ceremony was attended by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Thura U Aung Ko, U Thant Sin Maung, U Ohn Win, U Thein Swe, Dr. Myint Htwe, U Ohn Maung, Deputy Minister U Min Thu, senior departmental officials, representatives of UN organizations, diplomats, representatives of development partners, executives from travel businesses, specially invited guests and officials.
In his opening address, Vice President U Henry Van Thio said since the time Myanmar re-entered as a member of World Tourism Organization in 2012, the World Tourism Day has been commemorated and this is the seventh time it was being held.
Every year on 27 September, World Tourism Day is commemorated in member countries of the World Tourism Organization with the aim of increasing understanding on how tourism supports the long term development of a country. Therefore, conducting this ceremony can be taken as a practical way which has full potential to promote knowledge and insights on sustainable development of the country’s tourism.
Tourism is a business that everyone is involved in and is a business that is developing rapidly in the world. In the world today, tourism business is creating job opportunities not only in developing countries but in developed countries as well, and is a source that provides huge revenue to a country. Development of the tourism business is also effective for socio-economic development and poverty reduction work processes. It can be seen that with the advancement of technology in the world today, for attracting travellers and implementing travel tours it can be observed that digital technology is being used over traditional methods. That is why the World Tourism Organization is urging the usage of digital technology and innovation in tourism business to overcome the challenges and achieve sustainable development.
The World Tourism Day – 2018 is held with a theme “Tourism and the Digital Transformation.” The World Tourism Organization is learnt to consider digital technology in the tourism sector as the main factor in supporting preparing of future works and innovation.
As per figures released by World Tourism Organization in 2017, there were about 1,323 million travellers in the world which is an increase of more than 84 million compared to the previous year. 2017 saw the highest number of travellers going to Europe and Africa. Due to the increase in numbers of arrivals, income from the tourism sector increased to US$ 1.6 trillion and it contributed 7 percent of the world’s export sector.
For 2018, it is estimated that worldwide, there will be an increase of 6 percent over last year. In Southeast Asia the increase is estimated to be 10 percent. By 2020, there will be about 1.6 billion travellers in the world and of those about 123 million is expected to come to Asian countries so the prospect for the travel business sector is heading towards a better future.
Looking at the Myanmar tourism sector, international tourist arrivals was 3.4 million in 2017 and as of July 2018 tourist arrivals stand at 1.93 million. The tourism sector plays a main role in the country’s development and it needs to be in line with development of transport, basic infrastructure and financial management sectors so efforts should be exerted towards department and sector wise development.
Even though there are many challenges for development of the Myanmar tourism sector, by conducting Sustainable Tourism, Responsible Tourism and Pro Poor Tourism, jobs are created and related works are developed, supporting the increase in the country’s revenue. All need to plan ahead to maintain the development momentum of the Myanmar tourism sector and to share the benefits obtained from it with all the nationals.
Relevant state/region governments should work in close coordination and cooperation for more travellers to visit Myanmar, convenient arrangements made for ease of travel to the travel destinations, relaxing entry/exit restrictions and requirements, increase travel product state/region wise and arrange for year-round visit, developing community based travel, creating new travel destinations and to develop local travel businesses.
Due to one-sided and exaggerated reports on Rakhine issue by media, Myanmar witnessed decrease in tourist arrivals. Tourist arrivals from Europe and Australia dropped 2 per cent.
It was observed that efforts were made towards increasing visitors to Asia and Southeast Asia countries that has high market potential. On the other hand, it is required to spread actual true news to western countries. As travel business has a fragile nature, systematic preparation and arrangement need to be made to respond immediately to anything that could affect it. In doing this it is especially required for the government and the private sector to establish and implement joint strategies.
World travellers are to be informed through news media, inviting travel writers, distributing pamphlets, conducting study tours, participating in travel shows and international travel shows that they can visit without any dangers to peace and stability of the tourism destinations. Digital promotion systems that are cost effective and could be organized in a short time frame need to be conducted increasingly.
The State is planning to relax entry visas to ASEAN+3 countries to redevelop the travel business and is taking steps to coordinate with relevant ministries. In the same way relaxing visa requirements to western countries that have potential will also be considered.
During September, a new brand for Myanmar travel business “Myanmar: Be Enchanted” was launched in Japan at the travel show held in Tokyo, Japan. The Myanmar travel business will take an upward trend as it is also learnt that groups were formed to conduct market wise promotion to increase visitors from Japan, South Korea, China, ASEAN countries and European countries.
The travel business is a business that can develop the socio-economic development of all the nationals in the country in a short time with very little investment, and it also raises the image of the country. Therefore, for the systematic and sustainable development of the travel business that supports the economic development of Myanmar, not only the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism but all stakeholders need to work together.
The Vice President then urged all entrepreneurs in the travel sector to use innovation to create new travel products, transform and raise the travel business using digital technologies, and work together.
Next video messages of UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) Secretary General Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili and UN Secretary General were shown and an official explained about the new brand of Myanmar travel business “Myanmar: Be Enchanted.”
Afterwards, winners of university and college level essay competition, winners of debate, winner of best performing hotel awards, best service award, winning travel companies and best public toilet award winners were presented with awards by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Thura U Aung Ko, U Thant Sin Maung, U Thein Swe and U Ohn Win, respectively.
Officials from a travel booth representing Myanmar in the 33rd Korea World Travel Fair-2018 that won the Best Booth Operation Award and a travel booth representing Myanmar in the 21st Busan International Tourism Expo that won the Best Tourism Publicity Award then handed over the awards they received to Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung accepted the awards and presented certificates of honor to first prize winners who won it under the title, “Action Plan for Capacity Building of Shan Plateau, Myanmar (2020-2023)” at the 2018 Knowledge Sharing Seminar on Sustainable Tourism Development.
Following this, Union Minister Dr. Myint Htwe presented certificates of honor to winners of Medallion for Excellence – Restaurant Service at 12th ASEAN Skills Competition. Later, the Vice President, Union Ministers and guests posed for a commemorative group photo, inspected the show rooms, award winning essays and photographs exhibited.