When it comes to tourism development in Myanmar, the tremendous efforts of the Ministry for Hotels and Tourism and the private sector associations guarantee a golden age in the tourism industry in the near future. U Ohn Maung, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism, discusses tourism strategies and recent developments.
European Times: Which are the most recent developments in the tourism sector?
U Ohn Maung: As one of the priorities of the new Government, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, in close cooperation with its development partners, is implementing 12 projects focused on capacity building and destination management. To attract more tourists, the Ministry is planning on boosting marine and nature based tourism in the coastal region around Myeik Archipelago of 800 pristine islands, which lies in the Andaman Sea off the coast of southernmost Myanmar. Additionally, community based tourism is being implemented in the rural areas of Kayin, Kayah, Chin, Shan States and Magway Region, aimed at earning income for local residents by attracting tourists to visit and study the fascinating nature.
As measures for facilitating travel, starting from September 2016, tourists can enter Myanmar with E-visa from the international border check points. Furthermore, in addition to the increased number of hotel rooms, licensed tour companies and tour guides, the number of international airlines flying to Myanmar has increased to 31.
European Times: How does neighbouring tourism strategy influence the inflow of tourists?
U Ohn Maung: Myanmar is directly linked with China and Thailand and there is close cooperation under the initiatives of ASEAN and GMS tourism related programs. They are quintessential for Myanmar’s tourism markets, with Thailand accounting 16% and China accounting 11% of total number of arrivals in 2015. Most tourists come from Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, America, France, UK, Germany and Italy. The Ministry is promoting quality tourism and we expect to welcome more international visitors from long haul destinations.
European Times: What are the top priorities of the Ministry?
U Ohn Maung: The Ministry has adopted a Tourism Master Plan, Responsible Tourism Policy, Community Involvement in Tourism Policy and Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy for Protected Areas which serve as guiding principles for the implementation of sustainable tourism development, maximizing its socio-economic benefits and minimizing its environmental impact. We are committed to managing the tourism sector responsibly and sustainably and to extract maximum benefit for the nation and its people.
European Times: What is your personal message?
U Ohn Maung: With the steady progress in many areas, Myanmar is an excellent destination for all travellers. Our ancient and diverse culture and traditions together with the warm hospitality of our people offer a true spiritual refreshing for travellers. In addition, I would like to urge all to “bring your investments into Myanmar and you will find it worthwhile”.