Myanmar will reposition itself as a leading sustainable destination as part of a raft of measures unveiled in a white paper aimed at tourism recovery.
Entitled Tourism and Covid-19 in Myanmar: Priorities for Restarting Tourism, the white paper outlines a series of recommendations to help stimulate the industry once borders reopen.
May Myat Mon Win, Myanmar Tourism Marketing chairperson, said: “We have to think about the opportunities. What do we have and how can we create a better situation to rebuild based on these opportunities? We have to be creative and innovative.”
Under the measures, it is recommended that the industry focuses on responsible and sustainable tourism management. This includes improving the quality of existing products and creating new activities.
Nicole Häusler, co-author of the white paper, said: “When preparing for the new normal, the focus should no longer be exclusively on the four major destinations of Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake and Bagan, but rather on ecotourism and outdoor and adventure activities.
Häusler added that this should include new products, such as zip lining, rock climbing, agro tourism, birdwatching, nature tourism, caving, cycling and water sports.
She said: “What’s important to adapt to these new travel trends is to consider destination readiness along the tourism supply chain. We can only establish products when a destination and community members linked to these products are ready.”
Ensuring the industry cleans up its act is another important element. Awareness raising campaigns are already underway to help industry players understand the negative impact of waste, especially plastic.
Paper co-author Thu Thu Zaw said: “We need to encourage stakeholders to stop single-use plastic waste by substituting with locally-available green products.”
Green activists are already working in various regions, including Inle Lake and Yangon, where young ambassadors have been carrying out environmental campaigns.
Looking at the Chinese market, zero-dollar tours should be banned and more licensed Chinese-speaking tour guides trained. Said Häusler: “We need to develop sustainable tours together with our Chinese colleagues to achieve benefits for Myanmar, especially along the whole tourist supply chain.”
Another consideration when reopening is visa waiver programmes and reduced visa fees, as well as complete transparency on quarantine and other restrictions travellers need to know before visiting.