For any country to prosper, it is essential that all aspects of the country work in tandem towards achieving a common goal. This includes the economy, society, business, politics and all the other sectors. When every citizen of the country works with a common goal in mind, only then can a country flourish.
One of the best examples of a business that supports the national economy while promoting artistic and social skills is tourism. Today in our country, tourism stands tall as a business that can generate foreign income within a short time without deteriorating the ecosystem.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been collaborating with related ministries, associations and public with the aim of upgrading the nation’s economy. So, experienced tourism professionals and experts including the Union Ministers have been making efforts to develop community-based tourism( CBT), marine tourism and ecotourism in a sustainable way.
I was fortunate to participate in the Union Minister of Tourism’s trip to Kanpetlet in Chin State on May 13, 2016. I was very pleased to hear the Minister’s kind words to the villagers who are implementing community-based tourism in Salong Village. He said “We, the government is the government elected by public democratically. We want to know your opinions about whether you want to implement CBT in your village or not. We aim to improve the health and educational standards of villagers through CBT”. And then, Union Minister inaugurated community-based tourism in Salong Village along with the state government.
What I want to showcase is that the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been carrying out discussions with tourism-related associations, asking for relevant ministries’ and public’s opinions in formulating tourism policies and objectives. In addition, as a focal ministry, it has been trying as a priority to explore new tourism destinations that are suitable for the country and its people. They have been putting in tremendous efforts to develop tourism-related businesses such as hotels, tour guides, transportation, souvenirs, tourist healthcare and tourism promotion.
As there are many reasons that can lead to a deterioration of the society and environment because of the development of the tourism industry. The losses can be too huge to recover. Hence, it is essential to implement practical rules and regulations and have regional orders in place to ensure sustainable development.
Moreover, learning the lessons from our neighbouring countries that are facing a deterioration in their natural resources while promoting tourism in country, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has been adopting and implementing Myanmar Tourism Law, Myanmar Tourism Master Plan, Community Involvement In Tourism Policy, Responsible Tourism Policy and Myanmar Ecotourism Policy and Management Policy to improve tourism in the country sustainably.
While people see tourism as mostly a business and want to maximise profit without any regard for the environment, the Tourism Ministry puts in dedicated efforts to ensure the growth is achieved in the best possible way. That’s why, it reviews hotels and accommodation facilities, inspects the transportation licenses of vehicles, speed boats, tour guide licenses and takes up other measures. This also helps the Ministry to ensure a safe and convenient environment for tourists. Safety is of primary concern for the Ministry. That is why the government does not allow tourists to travel to non-permitted areas.
As there are 50,000 villages in Myanmar, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism explores new options such as community-based tourism in some villages which are developed following the rules and regulations and in cooperation with the regional government. Our community-based tourism efforts have also bragged us awards in travel fairs.
Some travel agencies try to promote Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s capital as a tourist destination since it has many attractive places such as Phokyar Elephant Camp, Ngalaik Lake, Land Mark, Safari Zoological Garden.
People of Myanmar are honest, friendly and helpful to others. They follow and practise traditional cultures and customs according to their religion. Many people who promote tourism in Myanmar want to promote the business of Home Stay Tourism in the country, which I feel, is not viable. In a Home Stay Tourism, tourists stay with hosts at home and learn about their local culture and family life. However, the people of Myanmar are not accustomed to staying with outsiders. It can lead to cultural and social problems between hosts and tourists.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has published a list of Do’s & Don’ts for tourists on the Ministry’s website. Tourists must read these carefully to travel comfortably in this lovely country of ours.
As a part of the measures for developing healthy tourism industry, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism continuously issues licenses to those hotels and guesthouses which follow the standards laid down by the government. While there remain, unscrupulous people who run their business illegally, it is essential for tourists to stay with licensed operators only.
As a part of its efforts to promote tourism in the country, the Ministry ties up with global leaders and creates partnerships. France is a leading country in tourism in the world with 85 millions of tourist arrivals in 2016 and a foreign exchange income of USD 50 billion. Tourism constitutes 7% of the French GDP and generates 2 millions of tourism-related jobs. Tourism professionals from France visited our country and provided tourism-related advice that can be implemented in Myanmar. Some of this advice include adopting exact rules and regulations, building strong tourism stakeholders, understanding tourist behaviour and targetting luxury tourists in Myanmar.
In some countries, travel planners prepare the type of accommodation according to the standard of tourists and their expenditure capacity per day. In our country, we are proceeding towards such a model which will make travelling easier for luxury tourists.
In 2006, Myanmar received only 2.9 million international tourists which have grown to 3.4 million in 2017. The Ministry has been putting in immense efforts to develop tourism in the country. If every citizen of the country put in an honest effort, Myanmar will emerge as a top tourist destination in the world within a short span of time.