Myanmar outlines tourism development plans

MYANMAR tourism officials have unveiled wide-ranging plans to develop the country’s tourism industry in anticipation of a surge in inbound tourists.

During a keynote presentation at last Friday’s Lao National Institute of Tourism & Hospitality (LANITH) Quarterly Symposium in Vientiane, Kyi Thein Ko, head of secretary, Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF), said Myanmar had engaged a branding firm to promote its tourism products, while MTF maintains a large presence at major regional and international travel tradeshows.

Eighty per cent of the marketing target themes such as history, culture, temples, nature, architecture and Buddhism in the country’s four main destinations: Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.

The country has also designated 15 eco-destinations. “We would like to share information in developing our ecotourism with Laos, as they have the experience,” said MTF senior tourism advisor, Daw Kyi Kyi Aye.

Addressing Myanmar’s high-end room shortage, Daw Kyi Kyi Aye said “local hotels were now upgrading,” and the situation was ripe for foreign investors, who have already earmarked US$1.15 billion for new upscale hotels that will add 1,415 rooms to the local inventory.

She noted that only 35 hotels with 6,560 rooms were geared for business travellers, and this lack of quality accommodation was an issue that the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism was acting on. “We don’t want more hotels for backpackers, but for the ‘laptop’ guests, as business travellers spend money,” she said.

Concerning connectivity, Daw Kyi Kyi Aye said Myanmar was planning to develop international air hubs at its major destinations, as well as more expressways and overland routes to neighbouring countries.

“We must be ready for the SEA Games in 2013 when we will also hold the ASEAN Chair,” she said. “We also have some 800 meetings scheduled and we aim to be a MICE destination by 2014 before hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2015.”

Both she and Kyi Thein Ko stressed the importance of partnerships, communication among stakeholders and human resource development in developing an effective strategy to promote the destination.

Discussions are already being held with LANITH chief technical advisor, Peter Semone, to provide guidance in implementing a Passport to Success skills training programme, starting a tourism and hospitality school, and producing master local trainers and educators.

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