Min­istry seeks to put a lit­tle magic in tourism

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

MYAN­MAR has launched a new tourism cam­paign, “Myan­mar, Be En­chanted,” in a bid to at­tract more vis­i­tors to the coun­try amid a boy­cott by western­ers over the cri­sis in north­ern Rakhine State.

Ho­tels and Tourism Min­is­ter U Ohn Maung launched “Myan­mar, Be En­chanted” on Satur­day to high­light the coun­try’s an­cient mys­ti­cal charms.

The new slo­gan re­places the “Let the Jour­ney Be­gin” cam­paign, which was launched in 2013 when the coun­try first opened its doors to for­eign­ers as the rul­ing junta ini­ti­ated eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­forms.

“Myan­mar tourism is boom­ing, that is why we in­tro­duced the new cam­paign to pro­mote Myan­mar,” U Ohn Maung said in a speech dur­ing the launch­ing cer­e­mony.

A min­istry state­ment said it con­ducted sur­vey at Yan­gon In­ter­na­tional Air­port in April about the new slo­gan, and most of the re­spon­dents liked it, as it re­flected the good ex­pe­ri­ence they had while vis­it­ing the coun­try.

The new cam­paign’s ‘Myan­mar’ logo is based on the shapes and rounded char­ac­ters of the Myan­mar al­pha­bet.

Some peo­ple crit­i­cised the use of the Myan­mar al­pha­bet in the logo, say­ing it may be dif­fi­cult for for­eign vis­i­tors to read.

“We be­lieve that peo­ple around the world will know about Myan­mar when we pro­mote Myan­mar tourism with ‘Myan­mar Be En­chanted,’ which is a joint ef­fort of the min­istry and Myan­mar Tourism Fed­er­a­tion,” U Yan Win, chair­man of the fed­er­a­tion, said.

A tourist from Nepal said, “I think ‘Myan­mar Be en­chanted’ is a bet­ter slo­gan than ‘Let the Jour­ney Be­gin’ be­cause Myan­mar is one of the last places in the world where vis­i­tors can dis­cover the mag­i­cal and mys­te­ri­ous things that the coun­try of­fers.”

There were plenty of good things be­ing said about trav­el­ling to Myan­mar this past week at the Pa­cific Asia Travel As­so­ci­a­tion event in Langkawi, Malaysia.

There are no ma­jor calls for a travel boy­cott be­cause of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s ac­cu­sa­tions that the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment has car­ried out an eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paign, or geno­cide, against Mus­lims in north­ern Rakhine since 2012.

Myan­mar, in­clud­ing its tourism min­istry, had a prom­i­nent po­si­tion on the trade show floor at the Mah­suri In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre in Langkawi. The Myan­mar booth was near the front en­trance to the ex­hibit floor next to Tourism Malaysia, the event’s host coun­try.

The new cam­paign is ex­pected to pro­vide new im­pe­tus for the coun­try’s sag­ging tourism in­dus­try amid the fall­out from the north­ern Rakhine cri­sis. Gov­ern­ment data showed that from Jan­uary to June, the num­ber of tourists in the coun­try dropped by about 38,000 to 1.8 mil­lion, com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Last year, 3.4 mil­lion tourists vis­ited the coun­try, down from the 4.6 mil­lion in 2015.

The gov­ern­ment is fo­cus­ing on at­tract­ing more Asian vis­i­tors to the coun­try, and gov­ern­ment statis­tics showed that tourist ar­rivals from Asia rose by 12 per­cent last year com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, while ar­rivals from North Amer­ica, Europe, Ocea­nia and the Mid­dle East de­clined.

The coun­tries send­ing the most vis­i­tors were China, Thai­land and Malaysia.

The gov­ern­ment has al­lot­ted some $1 mil­lion for tourism pro­mo­tion in 2018.

Myan­mar tourism woes be­gan on Au­gust 25, 2017, when the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army launched deadly at­tacks on gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity out­posts, trig­ger­ing a bru­tal crack­down by gov­ern­ment forces that sent over 700,000 Mus­lims flee­ing from north­ern Rakhine to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of per­pe­trat­ing mas­sive hu­man rights abuses against the Mus­lims in north­ern Rakhine.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

U Ohn Maung, min­is­ter of Ho­tels and Tourism, talks with the me­dia dur­ing the launch of the new tourism cam­paign at a down­town Yan­gon ho­tel on Satur­day.

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