Tourism officials make wish list for potential ADB funds
THE ASIAN Development Bank has earmarked around US$45 million for the tourism sector, which it will begin to disburse in 2018, and industry operators have no shortage of suggestions for how it should be spent.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism director general U Thint Thwin told The Myanmar Times last week that the ADB had offered to lend $45 million, but that this was too much for the ministry to handle on its own.
“That’s why we are negotiating with [tourism-] related ministries on how much the government will accept and how much will be used by which ministry and where,” he said.
Myanmar’s tourism industry has huge potential. Singapore-listed firm Yoma Strategic Holdings announced last week it was creating a specific entity to focus on the growing sector (see story page 9). But the tourism industry also needs investment in human resources, infrastructure and marketing, said industry heads.
One issue with investment, however, is a lack of data that could guide tourism firms on where best to put funds to work, U Phyo Wai Zar, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee told The Myanmar Times.
The ministry has only rough data on the numbers of tourists visiting Myanmar in any given year, and not enough detail to allow firms to decide on where and how to promote their businesses, he said.
Tourism ministry figures from 2015 showed 4.68 million visitors. But critics point out the vast majority are not tourists, but day-trippers who cross land borders with Thailand and China, and contribute relatively little to the economy outside of
‘Myanmar is one of the most expensive destinations in ASEAN after Singapore.’
Daw Hla Darli Khin 7Days Travel Company
U Phyo Wai Zar wants the government to increase is ability to monitor tourist trends.
“If the government analysed the data on tourist arrivals, it would make it easier for us to market our tours,” U Phyo Wai Zar said. “We’re not interested in how many millions of tourists visited in a year, we need detailed information on which destinations, and what income group the tourists are in.”
Daw Hla Darli Khin, a director at 7Days travel company, told The Myanmar Times she expected some of the ADB funds to help built the necessary infrastructure to allow people to visit more destinations and lower costs.
“We need to upgrade the infrastructure to ensure better services,” she said. “Myanmar is one of the most expensive destinations in ASEAN after Singapore.”
She believes tourists will not make repeat visits to Myanmar while costs remain higher than neighouring destinations.
“I don’t think that tourism can be developed with only marketing,” she said. “That’s why we need efforts from all sectors.”
A tourist shops at a market.