Cooperation can boost Myanmar's tourism

Updated: 2013-06-19 01:43

By Qin Zhongwei in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar (China Daily)

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With visits by tourists hitting a high in 2012, Myanmar is seeking more cooperation and investment from China to unleash its potential, the country's head of tourism said.

"We have regulated our foreign investment law, which is very user-friendly to international investors," U Htay Aung, minister of hotels and tourism, told China Daily.

Singapore and Thailand now top the list of foreign investors in Myanmar's tourism sector, but the minister expects more investment from China.

China and Myanmar can cooperate in many areas that need upgrading, including the level of services and accommodation, human resources training and infrastructure development, he said.

Last year, the number of international arrivals in Myanmar topped 1.06 million. Of that, 600,000 came by air, and the remainder came through border crossings, especially from China and Thailand. Chinese visitors were the second-largest group of visitors to Myanmar in both categories.

"Because our two countries have air and land connectivity, we will see more Chinese tourists visiting us,"he said.

His ministry is planning to promote Myanmar tourism through TV commercials on international TV channels such as the BBC and Channel NewsAsia.

"And we are also happy to work with Chinese TV stations, if they are willing to,"he added.

Myanmar is an enthusiastic participant in the annual China International Travel Mart, the largest travel event in Asia for international tourism professionals, he said.

The minister sees tourism infrastructure development, which lagged during the period of Western sanctions, as a key challenge in boosting the industry.

Myanmar has a severe shortage of hotel rooms, and hotel rates have been rising due to the sharp increase in visitors. Travelers have had trouble getting seats on some domestic flights now that the country's airports are bustling.

The government's mission is to develop the tourism industry while "we control the bubble”, he said.

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