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For the love of our beautiful country

“Love is all you need” – said the chartbuster sung by the famous British band Beatles. So true! Love guides our life from birth to death. Everything becomes beautiful if there’s love. Love is defined in various ways; there are different kinds of love – love for our parents, brothers and sisters, falling in love with someone, love for pets, love for masterpieces and many more. But there is one love that unites everyone – the love for our country. It is what brings every citizen of a country together. The love for our country is expressed in many ways. Mostly, it is expressed when our country is taking another country head-on in any form of sports. You will see people gathered together to cheer for their own country and unknown people bond whenever such a match is on. Everyone cheers their country and expects it to win. When we love someone, we want them to be healthy and wealthy. While this stands true for our loved one, it is equally true for our country. However, I don’t think we take care of our country the way we take care of our loved ones. We take care of our parents or children to ensure that no one harms them? But do we do the same for our country? Our beautiful Myanmar is bestowed with abundant natural resources which other countries do not possess. It is our duty to take care of our motherland and guide it towards a pathway to success. Our country is blessed with natural beauty – from the northern snow-capped mountains to the beautiful beaches in the south, we have such lovely things. There are waterfalls and streams, beautiful lakes, rivers, caves, cultural heritages, plant and animal species, aquatic animals, coral reefs, islands, ethnic traditions and culture. Mother nature has given us so much, it is our duty to hone these, maintain these and use them wisely for the benefit of our country. The tourism industry in our country is still in a nascent stage. It is growing steadily, but slowly. Do we need to ask ourselves why is the growth rate? Do hotels and airlines have suitable prices? Do we provide efficient services? Are the tour prices value for money? Are the common people responsible for tourists? A reason for this slow growth is also that our own people go to foreign countries for their holidays rather than exploring the immense natural wealth here at home. For foreigners, a major concern for travelling in our country remains the high cost of planning a holiday here. Most tourists consider travelling in Myanmar too expensive, especially when compared to our neighbouring countries. Speaking from an economic point of view, it is difficult and almost impossible to control prices in a competitive market. Transportation costs remain largely dependent on global oil prices. This also affects the prices of goods and services in the country. Efforts were taken initially to manage the prices, however, due to inadequate cooperation between the private and public sector, the initiatives couldn’t succeed. The pricing issue becomes acute during festivals when tourists visit the country from all over the world. It has been estimated that accommodation prices double during the Maha Thingyan Water Festival in the country. This is completely unfair to those who look forward to visiting our country on a tight budget. One of the main targets of tourism development in our country is to have quality tourists rather than concentrating on their quantity. But the main problem is that how do we identify a quality tourist? Should a wealthy tourist be called a quality tourist? What if they destroy our cultural heritage and tradition, do we still want them in our country? I want to call an ethical tourist a quality tourist – those who respect our culture, tradition, preserve our environment, our heritage and do not harm our country in any way. In 2016, the list of tourists in ASEAN are as follows –  32.59 million in Thailand, 26.76 million in Malaysia, 16.40 million in Singapore, 21.02 million in Indonesia, 10.01 million in Vietnam, 5.97 million in Philippines, 5.01 million in Cambodia, 4.23 million in Laos, 2.9 million in Myanmar and 0.22 million in Brunei. It is disheartening to see other countries performing better than ours. 83-year-old Ms Yoshiko from Japan met people who saved her life when she spent 3-years in hospitals in Kalaw and Shan State of Myanmar before running away to Thailand before the Japanese lost the war. She ordered her son to bury her ashes in front of the American Church Japanese hospital when she dies. When she died at the age of 86 in Japan, her son Mr Kazuhiko came to Kalaw and buried her ashes as per her order. This shows the love she had for a country where she lived a mere 3 years of her life. This stands evidence to the quality of service given to her by the people of Myanmar. All efforts of the government will go in vain if our own people do not support tourism and behave warmly to people who visit our country. Our love for our country should be revealed in the way we treat foreign people in our country. If we really love our country, we need to reform our mind and accept people of other country and culture as their own. After all, good behaviour doesn’t cost us anything but can earn us a good reputation as a warm country who love their tourists. MyintHtwe (Hotels and Tourism)
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