Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Myanmar unveils $500-m tourism master plan

Posted in Business, Economy, Investment, Myanmar, Tourism, Yangon by Sherpa Hossainy on July 9, 2013

Published in Myanmar Business Today (Vol 1, Issue 19) on June 13, 2013


Myanmar launched an almost half a billion dollar master plan in a bid to boost its tourism industry and promote sustainable tourism.

The Myanmar government, alongside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Norway, unveiled the “Tourism Master Plan” on June 6 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

The master plan outlines 38 development projects valued at about $500 million aimed at increasing Myanmar’s tourism competitiveness, protecting environmentally important areas and safeguarding ethnic communities.

“This master plan outlines a path to welcoming more visitors to Myanmar without threatening our unique cultural heritage or endangering pristine environments,” said U Htay Aung, union minister for hotels and tourism.

International visitor arrivals in Myanmar are forecast to rise to 7.5 million in 2020 – a seven-fold increase from current numbers – with corresponding tourism receipts worth $10.1 billion, according to ADB. Under a high growth scenario, the tourism industry could provide up to 1.4 million jobs by 2020, the lender said.

“Tourism will be a pillar of Myanmar’s economy, and it has the potential to create meaningful job opportunities for the country’s people, including those living in poor communities,” said ADB Vice President Stephen Groff. “This plan is a long-term vision, and a solid start to ensuring tourism contributes to equitable social and economic development in Myanmar.”

The master plan, funded by Norway, recommends building tourism-related human resources by strengthening the tourism education and training system, and identifies $44.5 million in new opportunities and partnerships aimed at training tourism workers.

“The master plan provides a leading tool for Myanmar to develop the sector in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The implementation will demand strong government leadership and coordination among a wide range of government agencies and state and regional governments,” said Katja Nordgaard, Norwegian ambassador to Myanmar.

The projects focus on expanding international air arrivals in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, undertaking improvements to the Bagan river pier to support more cruises, and building feeder roads in destinations like Ngapali beach and Inle Lake.

According to the plan, Myanmar’s 1993 Tourism Law will be reviewed and updated to streamline licensing formalities for hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and tour guides, as well as to amend sections governing regulations around the gaming subsector, labour and the establishment of outbound tour operations for Myanmar citizens. The plan suggests establishing a Tourism Executive Coordination Board, chaired at the vice-president level, to draw the various tourism-related ministries, agencies, and federations together under a single umbrella.

The plan also outlines the need for new tourist police divisions to be set up not only to safeguard tourists, but to prevent child trafficking and sex tourism. It suggests new tourism initiatives be introduced to ethnic communities using pilot community-based tourism projects that ensure local people are prepared to handle an influx of visitors, and maintain control over tourism in their communities.

Nearly half a million visitors arrived by air in Myanmar last year, with Thailand, China, Japan, the US, and South Korea making up the bulk of visitors. France, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and the UK each accounted for about 4-5 percent of overall arrivals. Another 465,614 visitors – mostly on day trips from Thailand – arrived via land borders.


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