Although the flow of negative news over Myanmar continues linked to the Rohingya crisis, the government remains committed to further develop tourism and boost arrivals, particularly from neighbouring countries. While Western countries feel more concern about humanitarian crisis, regional travellers are generally less sensitive to human-rights linked issues and could easily balance a possible slow down in tourist arrivals from Europe, Australia or the United States.
Myanmar is consequently looking at developing new regions for tourism. Local newspapers reported that According under the National Export Strategy, plans are under way to implement community-based tourism projects in Chin and Kayin states as well as the Tanintharyi Region. The announcement was recently done by Aung Soe, director-general of the Myanmar Trade Promotion Team under the Ministry of Commerce.
“In the National Export Strategy, we firstly carried out work on the tourism sector,” declared Aung Soe to local media. “The capacity building initiative provided US$ 1.9 million aiming for implementation of the community-based tourism project that had been implemented in Kayah State since 2012.It was successfully completed.”
The Kayah State Government Committee and other organizations have been looking at boosting the tourism industry in Kayah. The State is easily accessible for travellers as it shares a common border with the Province of Mae Hong Son in Thailand. Last year, during ITB Berlin, Kayah State was already awarded a first prize for a documentary project, bringing international awareness to the destination. International tourism organisations consequently chose Myanmar for implementing a new project this year and promote a new area.
“We don’t know whether the project will be implemented in Chin, Kayah States and Taninthari Region or not. It is under discussion,” said Aung Soe.
As it shares a border with Bangladesh and India on Northwestern Myanmar, Chin State has recently seen a surge in the number of travellers, both domestically and regionally. Entrepreneurs are now very keen to build hotels and resorts in Chin State. That’s why they are discussing the construction of hotels and resorts with the government, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission.
However, the region to probably enjoy the fastest tourism development is Tanintharyi Region which comprises three important tourism destinations: Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung Townships.
In an interview with the Thai daily ‘The Nation’, Ye Htut Naing, president of Taninthayi Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighted that strong ties with the neighbouring Thai province of Kanchanaburi is likkely to boost arrivals.
“Recently I received a lot of Thai businesses from Kanchanaburi,” Ye Htut Naing told The Nation. “I can obviously see how eager they are to play a role in creating sister cities for mutual benefit. Likewise, we Myanmar businesses want this MoU to be signed as soon as possible.”
A sister city relationship between Dawei, the Tanintharyi regional capital, and Kanchanaburi, has been discussed since at least 2011. Closer links between Tanintharyi and Kanchanaburi would help bring development to Myanmar’s south, he explained. the head of the Tanintharyi Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A “Sister Cities” cooperation agreement between Dawei and Kanchanaburi City would bring new impetus to tourism. However, it requests government’s approval. Dawei would certainly benefit of the nine million travellers (domestic and international) who visit annually Kanchanaburi.
“There are also a lot of interesting places to visit in Tanintharyi Region. For instance, Myeik Archipelago and Shin [Koe Shin] pagodas in Dawei could become favourite tourist spots if we do the branding well,” told U Ye Htut Naing to the Nation. There is a tentative plan to create Tanintharyi Travel Festival in the future to promote tourism in the region.