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Myanmar rebrands itself to woo more tourists


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Myanmar rebrands itself to woo more tourists

By Khine Kyaw 
The Nation 
Yangon 

 

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DESPITE the current decline in tourists coming from Europe and the Americas due to international media coverage of conflicts in Rakhine state, Myanmar remains confident it can attract foreign visitors in the months to come, according to officials and industry leaders.
 

The nation will promote its natural attractions and traditions to raise tourists’ interest, May Myat Mon Win, chairwoman of Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM), said in an exclusive interview with The Nation. 

 

“We have a lot of unexplored attractions across the country. This does not mean that we are not yet ready [for a tourism boom]. With authenticity and commitment, everything is possible,” she said.

 

According to her, it is now time to take another step in the “Myanmar, be enchanted” rebranding campaign launched in late 2018. From this year onwards, Myanmar will mainly focus on tourism marketing by participating in international travel shows, maintaining its current attractions and creating new destinations.

 

As part of MTM’s efforts to promote Myanmar’s tourism, it will have a booth at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair to be held in Germany next month. 

 

The presence at such an international event would pave a way for promoting Myanmar’s tourism on the international stage, said the executive.

 

“We are now trying to improve our image. In the meanwhile, we are also targeting new markets. So, we need to raise visitors’ awareness about Myanmar. In this respect, promotion matters,” she said.

 

Myanmar has adopted a “Look East” policy to attract visitors from Asia and develop its tourism sector. Yet, May Myat Mon Win insists Myanmar remains optimistic about increasing tourism visitors from the West.

 

“Definitely we look to the East but will also maintain the West on our radar. We are willing to grow simultaneously but need to be realistic in some cases,” she said.

 

Last year, Myanmar received far fewer Western visitors than in 2017. The number of European tourists dropped by 25 per cent, those from the Middle East were down 26 per cent, and Australians also declined by 19 per cent. American tourists were down 13 per cent, according to the statistics. 

 

Yet, Myanmar enjoyed 37 per cent growth in Chinese tourists’ arrivals and 9 per cent growth from Thailand, as well as a rise in Indian visits last year compared to 2017.

 

“This year, we hope to receive more tourists from both Asia and the West. At this point, the most important thing is to ensure more people know about Myanmar and we are striving for that,” she said.

 

She stressed the importance of key destinations – Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake, which she described as the “big four”. Additionally, the organisation focuses on helping build awareness of new destinations such as Hpaan, Loikaw, Chin State, Myeik Archipelago and Mogok, to name a few.

 

“Another move is to expand direct air links to our attractions. We are also trying for that, and hope to see more direct flights to major destinations in the months to come,” she said.

 

In late January, China’s Hainan Airlines launched a direct flight between Yangon and Chongqing in China, which is now running four times weekly. Earlier last month, Sichuan Airlines launched direct flights from Chongqing to Mandalay.

 

Cambodia and Myanmar last week discussed the possibility of establishing a direct flight between the ancient cities of Bagan and Siem Reap. 

 

May Myat Mon Win repeatedly stressed the need for a national tourism marketing strategy that aligns with international standards.

 

“It should be properly designed for practical approaches to raise the bar. It needs to be realistic and practical,” she said.

 

Thet Lwin Toh, chairman of Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA), echoed her view. He also stressed the importance of ensuring sustainability in key destinations.

 

“We need to strike a balance between demand and capacity. This means we need to ensure all our destinations are not squeezed by over-capacity in the market,” he said.

 

He suggested investing in infrastructure and capacity building to unlock Myanmar’s tourism potential.

 

“We need to ensure our readiness before we open the doors. We should have effective strategies to lure luxury tourists in place, and this is another important area we are focused on,” he said.

 

He lauded the government’s reforms, including approval of visa-free travel for Japanese and Korean tourists, and issuing visa-on-arrival for Chinese visitors. UMTA has urged the tourism ministry to also allow visa-free travels for visitors from some European countries.

 

“The ministry is now taking it into serious consideration. Later this year, they may allow some Western countries to visit Myanmar without the need to apply for a visa,” he said.

 

He warned of “zero-dollar tours” by Chinese tour companies. In order to ensure sustainability of locals engaged in Myanmar’s tourism industry, the government needs to set proper mechanisms to ensure that locals benefit from every single tour.

 

He considers a surge in Chinese tourists as a plus for tourism development in Myanmar. And he foresees a substantial increase in Korean tourists in the coming months.

 

Aung Aye Han, deputy director-general at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, agrees. “Following the visa waiver, Japan and Korea are among the most promising countries driving our tourism revenue. We are now reviewing our next steps. You are sure to see another visa waiver for more countries in Asia and the West in the first half of 2019,” he said.

 

The official said decentralisation of tourism permits to state and regional governments would drive more investments in the industry. He also highlighted the importance of traditional festivals and Inle Lake in attracting tourists.

 

“We aim to tap some traditional festivals to attract foreign visitors, particularly in the low season,” he said. “Another important move is the conservation of the Inle Lake eco-system. We take the lake’s sustainability seriously, and participate in conservation work in cooperation with environmental experts and international organisations.”

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/Tourism/30363864

 

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 -- © Copyright The Nation 2019-02-11
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Been there one time. With the genocide going on against the Muslims I won’t go back until that is resolved. Not a Muslim or a fan of their religion but not a fan of killing Innocent children and families because of religion differences. I am American and it always bothered me that we were taught “manifest destiny” when it came to killing all the American Indians. Hitler and Napoleon and Great Britain etc all had manifest destiny so when will humans learn to stop killing others for land, money, power, ego, revenge,....

 

oh oh wait Shakespeare answered that question many years ago. And the answe is never but that does not mean we have to support governments that are actively participating in genocide like Burma. Stop the killing Burma or you will only get mostly Chinese visitors. 

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6 hours ago, webfact said:

Myanmar remains confident it can attract foreign visitors in the months to come,

just sub contract everything to TAT.  Your numbers will go up over night.

 

Dead Chinese? numbers go up.

environmental disaster? numbers go up.

bodies all over the highway? numbers go up.

 

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Has a fantastic stay in Myanmar, lovely people, great country.

Just hope they don't make the same mistakes as Thailand, Cambodia and others, who ran and run after the quick Chinese money.

 

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Chinese are already heavily invested  in Myanmar (all the jade mines for one), many of the new roads are Chinese built, some cities, ( MuSee &  Ruili,  are 2)  on the China border, are almost entirely Chinese

 

I have been visiting the country since 1988 and still find it refreshing change from all its neighbors an will continue to go

governments kill people everywhere

 

is it wrong  YES

will it stop me from visiting  NO

will my visiting/not visiting make any change in government policy  NO

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On 2/11/2019 at 1:13 PM, Deli said:

Has a fantastic stay in Myanmar, lovely people, great country.

Just hope they don't make the same mistakes as Thailand, Cambodia and others, who ran and run after the quick Chinese money.

 

I have just returned from an 8 day holiday and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The people are so friendly and holidaying in Burma is so inexpensive compared to Thailand. I started in Mandalay sightseeing, then cruised down the Irrawaddy to Bagan to see the fantastic UNESCO site with thousands of pagodas and temples. I live in Isaan and flew from Khon Kaen to Mandalay with AIR ASIA on a return low cost "Fly-thru" ticket. Burmese Immigration now issues an e-visa which conveniently means not having to travel to the embassy in Bangkok. Yes, there are Chinese residents, workers and discerning visitors in the country but I did not see any of the typical Chinese tour groups "following the flag". On a previous visit to Mandalay I traveled by train to Hispaw on the Shan Plateau, traversing a switch back up a mountainside to access the plateau then crossing the famous Goteik Viaduct. Tourism is beginning to boom as it did in Cambodia but improving the infrastructure is very slow. See before it becomes swamped with tourists.

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Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam are at China's border, so there won't  be any lack of tourists now or in the future.

 

In fact, the number of tourists will only increase in the future.

 

That would be akin to Canada border with USA, do you see tourists decreasing?

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On 2/11/2019 at 11:00 AM, Wake Up said:

Been there one time. With the genocide going on against the Muslims I won’t go back until that is resolved. Not a Muslim or a fan of their religion but not a fan of killing Innocent children and families because of religion differences. I am American and it always bothered me that we were taught “manifest destiny” when it came to killing all the American Indians. Hitler and Napoleon and Great Britain etc all had manifest destiny so when will humans learn to stop killing others for land, money, power, ego, revenge,....

 

oh oh wait Shakespeare answered that question many years ago. And the answe is never but that does not mean we have to support governments that are actively participating in genocide like Burma. Stop the killing Burma or you will only get mostly Chinese visitors. 

WHAT <deleted> genocide? You mean the one Western powers after the oil, or Islamic states, after the oil, tell you about, or the stated aim of ARSA in 2017, to kill all non-Muslims? Islamic state in Myanmar, later to become a part of Bangladesh... ? Or maybe you mean the genocide in 1942 when the Ros killed 30 000 non-Muslims and drove another 50 000 to the South, leaving the coast clear for these guys to just walk over an unguarded frontier for the last 70 years? Myanmar is giving up on the West and turning more and more towards China, they don't care, great move by the West and the EU. 

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On 2/11/2019 at 5:31 PM, phuketrichard said:

Chinese are already heavily invested  in Myanmar (all the jade mines for one), many of the new roads are Chinese built, some cities, ( MuSee &  Ruili,  are 2)  on the China border, are almost entirely Chinese 

 

I have been visiting the country since 1988 and still find it refreshing change from all its neighbors an will continue to go

governments kill people everywhere

 

is it wrong  YES

will it stop me from visiting  NO

will my visiting/not visiting make any change in government policy  NO

Actually, as someone who has been to Muse (twice), this is not true. Yes there are quite a few Chinese in Muse, mainly for trading purposes but it is still an overwhelmingly Burmese border city (unlike say Chinshwehaw and Laukkai, both located in the ethnic Chinese enclave known as Kokang and can't be visited by foreigners at this time). Ruili is the border city on the Chinese side of Muse, but it's actually very Burmese due to the huge numbers of Burmese migrant workers who work there. Thank globalization for the fact that there are tons of Burmese working in Yunnan - all the way to places like Chuxiong and Kunming while Chinese come across to live in border areas of Myanmar.

 

The Myawaddy-Kawkareik bypass road is Thai built, while the extension from the end of that road to Hpa-an was initially awarded to a Chinese contractor (the state run company CRBC) but they did almost no work and left the country. Now a local? company has picked up the contract to complete the work, which is partly funded by the ADB.

 

There is a lot of Chinese influence along the border in the Wa and Kokang areas, which is not surprising given that these two regions have always been ethnic Chinese enclaves. Had it not been for the British, they would be part of Yunnan now. Right now you need a command of the Chinese language if you were to visit, as well as Chinese Yuan to pay for goods and services as local currency isn't accepted. Even time is based on China time.

 

Mandalay has quite a few Chinese residents, but it doesn't nearly feel as Chinese as Sihanoukville does, not even close.

 

You are spot on about the rest of your post and I agree with you 100%.

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