Interview: U Yan Win
Where does investment need to be focused to ensure the sustainable development of Myanmar’s tourism industry in the coming years?
U YAN WIN: Since 2011, the tourism industry has been gaining ground and assisting in the development efforts of Myanmar, with a substantial growth in international tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment. The MTF recognises that tourism is a labour-intensive industry, employing workers with low to high skillsets, and can provide one of the most accessible ways to reduce poverty. However, we can only achieve this if the quality and standards of our tourism products and services match what international visitors expect when they come to our country. Encompassing all aspects of inclusive growth and sustainable development over the medium to long term, our vision is clearly defined. It focuses on promoting Myanmar as a tourist destination, assisting in the process of sustainable tourism development, encouraging private investment and developing human resources in the sector.
How will the promotion of ecotourism assist the government in developing a green economy?
YAN WIN: The outcome of the International Conference on Ecotourism in Protected Areas, which was organized in Naypyitaw by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and jointly hosted by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, focused on ecotourism as a mechanism to strengthen livelihoods, adaptation and conservation. We now have the Myanmar Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy, which was launched during the opening day of the conference. This prioritised 21 areas in our policy and management strategy, including response to climate change, regional environmental and economic challenges, contribution to capacity building, research, and the development of green technologies. It also outlines strategies for promoting national and international cooperation and defines how ecotourism can finance nature conservation with the help of host communities. Promoting ecotourism in Myanmar is a vital component of the government’s effort to develop a green economy.
What can be done on a government-to-government level to increase tourism and connectivity between ASEAN members?
YAN WIN: The MTF is actively involved in ASEAN integration and in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The recent ASEAN Tourism Forum, which we hosted for the first time since we joined the organisation, was a milestone achievement for our tourism industry. We gained experience as the host country and had the opportunity to let the region and the world know that Myanmar is a “must visit” destination for all international visitors. To increase tourism and connectivity between ASEAN members, there is an urgent need on a government- to-government level to implement the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan which focuses on travel facilitation, enhancing market awareness, diversification of destinations, improving tourism worker service skills and the adoption of innovative approaches to destination planning and product development.
In your opinion, why is Naypyitaw best suited to foster the meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) segment?
YAN WIN: Naypyitaw is the administrative capital of Myanmar and it has already successfully hosted the South East Asian Games in 2013. Naypyitaw also hosted the ASEAN Summit and related ASEAN high-level meetings during 2014. Naypyitaw is an excellent MICE destination because we have the right logistics in place to support existing central government ministries and many international level venues.
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