Build it and we will come, says Thai tourism board

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

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.

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