NAYPYITAW — Myanmar’s Vice President Henry Van Thio said the government has financial constraints in promoting the country’s tourism industry.
In his speech at the Myanmar Tourism Conference in the administrative capital of Naypyitaw on Tuesday, the vice president called for the cooperation of the private sector.
“The government has to work for the development of various sectors and it might be difficult for it to allocate enough funds for tourism promotion. Therefore, I’d like to urge the private sector to find solutions together,” said Henry Van Thio, who is also the chairman of the central committee for national tourism development.
The vice president acknowledged that Myanmar should participate in international tourism fairs to attract international visitors, “but there are financial restraints.”
“We need to advertise more that this country is pleasant to visit. On the other hand, hotel charges and transportation fees in Myanmar should be fair compared to prices in other countries. It is very important that we create value for money,” said the vice president.
Local tour operators have told The Irrawaddy that they expect foreign arrivals to decline this year with vacationers in Western countries canceling their bookings following the unrest in northern Rakhine State.
On the other hand, tourist arrivals from Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, China and Thailand have been on the rise, said U Thet Lwin Toe, chairman of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association.
Myanmar is also taking steps to relax visa restrictions for Japan, China and South Korea, he said.
“We also need to think about how the visa on arrival system can create jobs for locals and adopt necessary policies,” said U Thet Lwin Toe.
The association is also conducting a green season campaign—an initiative to attract foreign visitors during the rainy season, which is the off-season in Myanmar. The campaign, which was launched last year, is nowhere near a success, said U Thet Lwin Toe.
U Thet Lwin Toe called for tourism promotion campaigns targeted at fellow ASEAN countries, saying that visitor arrivals to ASEAN countries were dominated by intra-ASEAN travel, accounting for 42 percent of total international arrivals last year.
U Tint Thwin, director-general with the Hotels and Tourism Ministry, confirmed that arrivals from western countries have slightly declined due to unrest in Rakhine State.
“We explained the Rakhine issue at international tourism fairs, as well as on our websites and websites of tour companies. It may not be very effective but we can try to inform people about the true situation to a certain extent,” he said.
Myanmar received more than 3.4 million visitors last year and welcomed 1.2 million in the first four months of 2018. It expects to receive 3.5 million to 4 million more through December.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.