Ministry seeks to put a little magic in tourism
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.
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.