Build it and we will come, says Thai tourism board
MYANMAR will need to upgrade its roads in order to fully harness the potential of the Thai tourism market, according to the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Association (TFOTPA).
TFOTPA chair Chairat Triratanajaraspon told The Myanmar Times that the government needs to prioritise development on the border between the two countries.
“The road transportation [on the] border on the Dawei side needs to be better. It is very important if Myanmar is to cooperate. We believe Myanmar will be developed under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government,” he said. “Thai people are interested to visit Myanmar because it has a lot of untouched natural resources,” he said. ”We want to take our people to the new destination of Myanmar where they haven’t been yet.” Package tourism from Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province began in 2012, he added.
“We don’t know who has responsibility for that, but we would like to upgrade the road system for better transportation,” said U Htein Win, chair of Dawei Eco Tourism Development. “The road transportation needs to be upgraded – it is worse than before.”
The distance from Dawei to Htee Khee at the border is around 150 kilometres (93 miles) and takes about six hours by car, U Htein Win said. By contrast, the distance between Htee Khee and Kanchanaburi is 97 kilometres and takes just under one hour.
Cooperation between Myanmar and Thailand in the tourism sector will prove beneficial for both countries, with border trade an area targeted for growth, Mr Chairat said, adding that reciprocal trade at the border would open up new markets for traders from both countries and be a boon for consumers.
“If Myanmar people will come and cooperate with us for import and export trade, we will help to find the market and [what] kinds of products are needed in Thailand,” he said.
The Karen National Union (KNU) currently collects fees from Myanmar motorists at its tollgate between Kanchanaburi and Htee Khee, U Aung Soe Moe, assistant director for the Ministry of Commerce at the Htee Khee border, told The Myanmar Times.
He said the KNU exacts a 100 baht (K3500) vehicle toll, as well as collecting 7 percent on exported products. The impact this system could have on increased border trade and tourism is not quite clear, he said.