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Myanmar calls for investment in responsible tourism

January 23, 2017 Destination ASEAN No Comments Email Email

Against the backdrop of an increasing investment trend in tourism, Myanmar is heightening calls for more responsible and sustainable investment in the country’s tourism sector.

According to figures from the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, foreign direct investment in Myanmar’s hotel and tourism projects has reached almost USD 3 billion in 2016. Singapore (USD 1.6 billion) is on the top of the list as the biggest investor, followed by Thailand (USD 445 million) and Vietnam (USD 440 million). As of November 2016, foreign direct investment in the tourism sector had generated 56 projects, compared with 48 projects in 2015 that totaled USD 2.6 billion.

“The timing couldn’t be more perfect to invest in Myanmar as it opens up to the world. We have fantastic tourism destinations that need to be served with world-class hotels and resorts, unique travel experiences, and better infrastructure,” said Myanmar Union Minister of Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung while attending the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017 in Singapore.

“Discovering Myanmar is more than visiting the archaeological sites in Bagan or our golden pagodas. We have excellent beaches, too. We invite travelers to make a trip down south and see the beautiful landscape, pristine beach and natural park in Mergui Archipelago, and enjoy festivals and the unique culture in Kayin, Chin, Mon and Kayah states,” the minister added.

A proponent of Community Based Tourism (CBT), the Minister is also known for his efforts to push for income-generated measures for local people and expansion of tourism products.

Among some ongoing CBT projects in Myanmar are the Thandaung-gyi B&B, Tea Plantation, Small Butterfly Village and Forest Walks in Kayin State and the Eco Tourism project in Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State. Both projects involved active support from the civil society.

On the back of new investment regulations set to take effect this year, the Government of Myanmar is promising to make ways for privileged and preferential treatment of investors in the tourism sector.

“Our new investment law offers flexibility to meet the needs of local and overseas investors as well as ease of doing business in Myanmar. We’d like for the number of visitors to Myanmar to steadily rise in line with the current upward trend of investment. That’s why we highly encourage investors to come to Myanmar,” said Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Director General U Tint Thwin.

The call for responsible investment comes as Myanmar concludes a week-long participation in the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017, an annual event that aims to cooperatively promote the ASEAN region as one tourist destination as well as boost intra-ASEAN travel.

It also builds on the momentum of the proposal for Myanmar to participate in the establishment of a tourism coordination office for the Greater Mekong region, approved by the Myanmar Union Parliament in December 2016. The deal will see Myanmar, along with Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and China cooperating in seeking markets for tourism, foreign investment and secure travel.

In 2016, the Asian Development Bank reported tourism to be among the leading sources of growth in Myanmar’s economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, just last year, Myanmar’s tourism sector contributed 5.9% to its total GDP. The figure is expected to rise to 7.8% per annum through to 2026.

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