Cap­i­tal tries its luck at draw­ing MICE visi­tors

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thaz Han and Win Thaw Tar PYAE THET PHYO SU PHYO WIN

In an­other bid to draw for­eign­ers to Nay Pyi Taw and pro­mote the empty cap­i­tal as a des­ti­na­tion, the Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism is push­ing con­fer­ences, ex­pos and events.

THE govern­ment has again an­nounced a se­ries of ini­tia­tives to help draw tourists to Nay Pyi Taw, in­clud­ing step­ping up its ef­forts to lure for­eign trav­ellers look­ing for a des­ti­na­tion to hold events and con­fer­ences.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in the cap­i­tal on Septem­ber 28, on the eve of World Tourism Day, U Tint Th­win, di­rec­tor gen­eral at the Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism, said Nay Pyi Taw had a lot to of­fer both for­eign and lo­cal tourists.

A mar­ket­ing team is to boost ef­forts to pro­mote the cap­i­tal as a lo­ca­tion for MICE – meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences and ex­hi­bi­tions, he said.

“In­ter­na­tional tourists can come to at­tend a meet­ing and then they can visit the rest of Myan­mar,” said U Tint Th­win.

The govern­ment was also run­ning tours of par­lia­ment for lo­cal youth groups, he said, adding that the cap­i­tal has his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance that it should lever­age to draw lo­cals.

“Our min­istry is co­op­er­at­ing with the hlut­taw and arranging trips for youths dur­ing their hol­i­days af­ter the rainy sea­son to learn all about the hlut­taw, which is de­cid­ing on im­por­tant mat­ters for the coun­try,” he said.

“Our an­cient kings also re­garded this place as a place of no­bil­ity so lo­cal trav­ellers also can come to Nay Pyi Taw to learn all about this,” he said, re­fer­ring to the area.

Nay Pyi Taw saw a ho­tel build-up in the lead up to 2014 ASEAN events while it held the chair that year for the re­gional block. But many of the fa­cil­i­ties have been un­der­utilised since.

The govern­ment last year be­gan push­ing Nay Pyi Taw as a po­ten­tial des­ti­na­tion for con­fer­ences and events. But Yan­gon is still the over­whelm­ing pref­er­ence as an en­try point for tourist ar­rivals. In 2015, 1.2 mil­lion trav­ellers ar­rived via Yan­gon, com­pared to just 13,800 in the cap­i­tal, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism.

Speak­ing at last week’s press event, Daw Khin San Win, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral from the direc­torate of Ho­tels and Tourism, said that in­creased com­pe­ti­tion is be­gin­ning to see prices for ac­com­mo­da­tion drop in the cap­i­tal.

“Now ho­tels are re­duc­ing their room prices com­pet­i­tively, with­out need­ing to be urged by us,” she said, adding that the aver­age price of rooms had dropped by about 20 per­cent.

There are more than 50 ho­tels with over 5000 rooms, she said, with the in­dus­try work­ing to­gether to pro­mote the area.

“We have done a lot of mar­ket­ing over the past three years, aim­ing to get peo­ple to hold meet­ings and ex­hi­bi­tions in Nay Pyi Taw,” said Daw Khin San Win. “We will con­tinue with this strat­egy, so we can en­hance the rep­u­ta­tion of Nay Pyi Daw as a des­ti­na­tion for MICE.”

But not every­one agrees with the cap­i­tal’s tourism po­ten­tial.

“Nay Pyi Taw is like a dead city,” said U Aye Kyaw, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Ruby Land Tourism Ser­vices.

It takes more than a few con­fer­ence halls, he said, to lure for­eign visi­tors to a MICE des­ti­na­tion.

“There needs to be fa­cil­i­ties with shop­ping spots and restau­rants too,” he said. “And we can’t com­pete with Thai­land and Viet­nam on ho­tel room prices, even though they said they have low­ered prices.”

Daw Zar Chi Thet, op­er­a­tions man­ager at Ayarwaddy Le­gend Trav­els and Tours, wel­comed the govern­ment’s ini­tia­tives, but said there was still much to do in the cap­i­tal be­fore for­eign visi­tors saw it as an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence des­ti­na­tion.

“Lower room prices are one of just many fac­tors needed to help pro­mote a MICE in­dus­try,” she said. “There should be more cheap di­rect flights to Nay Pyi Taw, for ex­am­ple.”

Ad­di­tional en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties were also im­por­tant to the in­dus­try, Daw Zar Chi Thet added.

“Tourists have told us that there is no place to go when the events are fin­ished,” she said. “It is not enough to have only lower ho­tel room prices, but we need bet­ter trans­porta­tion and other fa­cil­i­ties to pro­mote a tourism in­dus­try in Nay Pyi Taw.”

‘Nay Pyi Taw is like a dead city.’

U Aye Kyaw Ruby Land Tourism Ser­vices

Photo: Thiri Lu

A jay­walker dares to cross a Nay Pyi Taw road. The city is known for its im­pres­sive in­fra­struc­ture, and less ap­pre­ci­ated for its cul­tural high­lights.

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