Tourism of­fi­cials make wish list for po­ten­tial ADB funds

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

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

bor­der towns.

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.”

Photo: Staff

A tourist shops at a mar­ket.

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